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The conceits of consensus

By Judith Curry | Climate Etc. | August 27, 2015

Critiques, the 3%, and is 47 the new 97?

For background, see my previous post The 97% feud.

Cook et al. critiques

At the heart of the consensus controversy is the paper by Cook et al. (2013), which inferred a 97% consensus by classifying abstracts from published papers.The study was based on a search of broad academic literature using casual English terms like “global warming”, which missed many climate science papers but included lots of non-climate-science papers that mentioned climate change – social science papers, surveys of the general public, surveys of cooking stove use, the economics of a carbon tax, and scientific papers from non-climate science fields that studied impacts and mitigation.

The Cook et al. paper has been refuted in the published literature in an article by Richard Tol:  Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the literature: A re-analysis (behind paywall).  Summary points from the abstract:

A trend in composition is mistaken for a trend in endorsement. Reported results are inconsistent and biased. The sample is not representative and contains many irrelevant papers. Overall, data quality is low. Cook׳s validation test shows that the data are invalid. Data disclosure is incomplete so that key results cannot be reproduced or tested.

Social psychologist Jose Duarte has a series of blog posts that document the ludicrousness of the selection and categorization of papers by Cook et al., including citation of specific articles that they categorized as supporting the climate change consensus:

From this analysis, Duarte concludes: ignore climate consensus studies based on random people rating journal article abstracts.  I find it difficult to disagree with him on this.

The 3%

So, does all this leave you wondering what the 3% of papers not included in the consensus had to say?  Well, wonder no more. There is a new paper out, published by Cook and colleagues:

Learning from mistakes

Rasmus Benestad, Dana Nuccitelli, Stephan Lewandowski, Katherine Hayhoe, Hans Olav Hygen, Rob van Dorland, John Cook

Abstract.  Among papers stating a position on anthropogenic global warming (AGW), 97 % endorse AGW. What is happening with the 2 % of papers that reject AGW? We examine a selection of papers rejecting AGW. An analytical tool has been developed to replicate and test the results and methods used in these studies; our replication reveals a number of methodological flaws, and a pattern of common mistakes emerges that is not visible when looking at single isolated cases. Thus, real-life scientific disputes in some cases can be resolved, and we can learn from mistakes. A common denominator seems to be missing contextual information or ignoring information that does not fit the conclusions, be it other relevant work or related geophysical data. In many cases, shortcomings are due to insufficient model evaluation, leading to results that are not universally valid but rather are an artifact of a particular experimental setup. Other typical weaknesses include false dichotomies, inappropriate statistical methods, or basing conclusions on misconceived or incomplete physics. We also argue that science is never settled and that both mainstream and contrarian papers must be subject to sustained scrutiny. The merit of replication is highlighted and we discuss how the quality of the scientific literature may benefit from replication.

Published in Theoretical and Applied Climatology [link to full paper].

A look at the Supplementary Material shows that they considered credible skeptical papers (38 in total) – by Humlum, Scafetta, Solheim and others.

The gist of their analysis is that the authors were ‘outsiders’, not fully steeped in consensus lore and not referencing their preferred papers.

RealClimate has an entertaining post on the paper, Let’s learn from mistakes, where we learn that this paper was rejected by five journals before being published by Theoretical and Applied Climatology. I guess the real lesson from this paper is that you can get any kind of twaddle published, if you keep trying and submit it to different journals.

A consensus on what, exactly?

The consensus inferred from the Cook et al. analysis is a vague one indeed; exactly what are these scientists agreeing on? The ‘97% of the world’s climate scientists agree that humans are causing climate change’ is a fairly meaningless statement unless the relative amount (%) of human caused climate change is specified. Roy Spencer’s 2013 Senate testimony included the following statement:

“It should also be noted that the fact that I believe at least some of recent warming is human-caused places me in the 97% of researchers recently claimed to support the global warming consensus (actually, it’s 97% of the published papers, Cook et al., 2013). The 97% statement is therefore rather innocuous, since it probably includes all of the global warming “skeptics” I know of who are actively working in the field. Skeptics generally are skeptical of the view that recent warming is all human-caused, and/or that it is of a sufficient magnitude to warrant immediate action given the cost of energy policies to the poor. They do not claim humans have no impact on climate whatsoever.

The only credible way to ascertain whether scientists support the consensus on climate change is through surveys of climate scientists. This point is eloquently made in another post by Joe Duarte: The climate science consensus is 78-84%. Now I don’t agree with Duarte’s conclusion on that, but he makes some very salient points:

Tips for being a good science consumer and science writer. When you see an estimate of the climate science consensus:

  • Make sure it’s a direct survey of climate scientists. Climate scientists have full speech faculties and reading comprehension. Anyone wishing to know their views can fruitfully ask them. Also, be alert to the inclusion of people outside of climate science.
  • Make sure that the researchers are actual, qualified professionals. You would think you could take this for granted in a study published in a peer-reviewed journal, but sadly this is simply not the case when it comes to climate consensus research. They’ll publish anything with high estimates.
  • Be wary of researchers who are political activists. Their conflicts of interest will be at least as strong as that of an oil company that had produced a consensus study – moral and ideological identity is incredibly powerful, and is often a larger concern than money.
  • In general, do not trust methods that rest on intermediaries or interpreters, like people reviewing the climate science literature. Thus far, such work has been dominated by untrained amateurs motivated by political agendas.
  • Be mindful of the exact questions asked. The wording of a survey is everything.
  • Be cautious about papers published in climate science journals, or really in any journal that is not a survey research journal. Our experience with the ERL fraud illustrated that climate science journals may not be able to properly review consensus studies, since the methods (surveys or subjective coding of text) are outside their domains of expertise. The risk of junk science is even greater if the journal is run by political interests and is motivated to publish inflated estimates. For example, I would advise strong skepticism of anything published by Environmental Research Letters on the consensus – they’re run by political people like Kammen.

Is 47 the new 97?

The key question is to what extent climate scientists agree with key consensus statement of the IPCC:

“It is extremely likely {95%+ certainty} that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. ”

Several surveys of climate scientists have addressed using survey questions that more or less address the issue of whether humans are the dominant cause of recent warming (discussed in the previous post by Duarte and summarized in my post The 97% feud).

The survey that I like the best is:

Verheggan et al. (2014) Scientists view about attribution of climate change. Environmental Science & Technology [link]

Recently, a more detailed report on the survey was made available [link]. Fabius Maximus has a fascinating post New study undercuts key IPCC finding (the text below draws liberally from this post). This survey examines agreement with the keynote statement of the IPCC AR5:

“It is extremely likely {95%+ certainty} that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. ”

The survey examines both facets of the attribution statement – how much warming is caused by humans, and what is the confidence in that assessment.

In response to the question: What fraction of global warming since the mid 20th century can be attributed to human induced increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations? A total of 1,222 of 1,868 (64% of respondents) agreed with AR5 that the answer was over 50%. Excluding the 164 (8.8%) “I don’t know” respondents, yields 72% agree with the IPCC.

 

Slide1

The second question is: “What confidence level would you ascribe to your estimate that the anthropogenic greenhouse gas warming is more than 50%?” Of the 1,222 respondents who said that the anthropogenic contribution was over 50%, 797 (65%) said it was 95%+ certain (which the IPCC defines as “virtually certain” or “extremely likely”).

Slide2The 797 respondents who are highly confident that more than 50% of the warming is human caused) are 43% of all 1,868 respondents (47% excluding the “don’t know” group). Hence this survey finds that slightly less than half of climate scientists surveyed agree with the AR5 keynote statement in terms of confidence in the attribution statement.

 Who’s opinion ‘counts’?

Surveys of actual climate scientists is a much better way to elicit the actual opinions of scientist on this issue. But surveys raise the issue as to exactly who are the experts on the issue of attribution of climate change? The Verheggan et al. study was criticized in a published comment by Duarte, in terms of the basis for selecting participants to respond to the survey:

“There is a deeper problem. Inclusion of mitigation and impacts papers – even from physical sciences or engineering – creates a structural bias that will inflate estimates of consensus, because these categories have no symmetric disconfirming counterparts. These researchers have simply imported a consensus in global warming. They then proceed to their area of expertise. [These papers] do not carry any data or epistemic information about climate change or its causes, and the authors are unlikely to be experts on the subject, since it is not their field.

Increased public interest in any topic will reliably draw scholars from various fields. However, their endorsement (or rejection) of human-caused warming does not represent knowledge or independent assessments. Their votes are not quanta of consnsensus, but simply artifacts of career choices, and the changing political climate. Their inclusion will artificially inflate sample sizes, and will likely bias the results.”

Roy Spencer also addresses this issue in his Senate testimony (cited above):

“(R)elatively few researchers in the world – probably not much more than a dozen – have researched how sensitive today’s climate system is based upon actual measurements. This is why popular surveys of climate scientists and their beliefs regarding global warming have little meaning: very few of them have actually worked on the details involved in determining exactly how much warming might result from anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.”

The number of real experts on the detection and attribution of climate change is small, only a fraction of the respondents to these surveys. I raised this same issue in the pre-Climate Etc. days in response to the Anderegg et al. paper, in a comment at Collide-a-Scape (referenced by Columbia Journalism Review ):

The scientific litmus test for the paper is the AR4 statement: “anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been responsible for “most” of the “unequivocal” warming of the Earth’s average global temperature over the second half of the 20th century”.

The climate experts with credibility in evaluating this statement are those scientists that are active in the area of detection and attribution. “Climate” scientists whose research areas is ecosystems, carbon cycle, economics, etc speak with no more authority on this subject than say Freeman Dyson.

I define the 20th century detection and attribution field to include those that create datasets, climate dynamicists that interpret the variability, radiative forcing, climate modeling, sensitivity analysis, feedback analysis. With this definition, 75% of the names on the list disappear. If you further eliminate people that create datasets but don’t interpret the datasets, you have less than 20% of the original list.

Apart from Anderegg’s classification of the likes of Freeman Dyson as not a ‘climate expert’ (since he didn’t have 20 peer reviewed publications that they classed as ‘climate papers’), they also did not include solar – climate experts such as Syun Akasofu (since apparently Akasofu’s solar papers do not count as ‘climate’).

But perhaps the most important point is that of the scientists who are skeptical of the IPCC consensus, a disproportionately large number of these skeptical scientists are experts on climate change detection/attribution. Think Spencer, Christy, Lindzen, etc. etc.

Bottom line: inflating the numbers of ‘climate scientists’ in such surveys attempts to hide that there is a serious scientific debate about the detection and attribution of recent warming, and that scientists who are skeptical of the IPCC consensus conclusion are disproportionately expert in the area of climate change detection and attribution.

Conceits of consensus

And finally, a fascinating article The conceits of ‘consensus’ in Halakhic rhetoric.  Read the whole thing, it is superb.  A few choice excerpts:

The distinguishing characteristic of these appeals to consensus is that the legitimacy or rejection of an opinion is not determined by intrinsic, objective, qualifiable criteria or its merits, but by its adoption by certain people. The primary premise of such arguments is that unanimity or a plurality of agreement among a given collective is halakhically binding on the Jewish population  and cannot be further contested or subject to review.

Just as the appeal to consensus stresses people over logic, subsequent debate will also focus on the merits of individuals and their worthiness to be included or excluded from the conversation. This situation runs the risk of the ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy whereby one excludes a contradictory opinion on the grounds that no one who could possibly hold such an opinion is worth consideration.

Debates over inclusion and exclusion for consensus are susceptible to social manipulations as well. Since these determinations imply a hierarchy or rank of some sort, attempts which disturb an existing order may be met with various forms of bullying or intimidation – either in terms of giving too much credit to one opinion or individual or not enough deference to another. Thus any consensus reached on this basis would not be not based out of genuine agreement, but fear of reprisals. The consensus of the collective may be similarly manipulated through implicit or overt marketing as a way to artificially besmirch or enhance someone’s reputation.

The next premise to consider is the correlation between consensus and correctness such that if most (or all) people believe something to be true, then by the value of its widespread acceptance and popularity, it must be correct. This is a well known logical fallacy known as argumentum ad populum, sometimes called the ‘bandwagon fallacy’. This should be familiar to anyone who has ever been admonished, “if all your friends would jump off a bridge would you follow?” It should also be obvious that at face value that Jews, especially Orthodox Jews, ought to reject this idea as a matter of principle.

Appeals to consensus are common and relatively simply to assert, but those who rely on consensus rarely if ever acknowledge, address, or defend, the assumptions inherent with the invoking of consensus as a source – if not the determinant – of practical Jewish law. As I will demonstrate, appeals to consensus are laden with problematic logical and halakhic assumptions such that while “consensus” may constitute one factor in determining a specific psak, it is not nearly the definitive halakhic criterion its proponents would like to believe.

August 27, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Leave a comment

Stunning poll results showing Ukrainians’ dissatisfied with government, economy and war

New Cold War | August 26, 2015

The International Republican Institute in the United States has published results of polling of attitudes of Ukrainians on the key issues facing the country. The polling was conducted in the latter two weeks of July 2015 by Rating Group Ukraine on behalf of the IRI.

IRI poll 4The poll provides more evidence of deepgoing and growing political dissatisfaction and alienation in Ukraine. Absolute or relative majorities of Ukrainians now express unfavorable views of all major government leaders and politicians from major parties in Ukraine.

The people of the rebel region of Donbas are not included in the poll, which means that the levels of dissatisfaction of Ukrainian residents are even higher than what is reported by the IRI.

The poll results are unlikely to be reported in Western mainstream media, even though the poll is commissioned and published by a right-wing U.S. institute. That’s because the results fly in the face of the “news” and editorial opinions peddled by Western media. It proves that media is lying to its readers and grossly misleading them when it inaccurately presents the war in eastern Ukraine as a virtuous war against an aggressive Russia that is supported by the majority of the Ukrainian people.

Media also chooses to be silent about the profound economic crisis that is wracking Ukraine as a result of the Kyiv regime’s turn to austerity association with the European Union, and about the massive human rights violations accompanying the civil war of the Kyiv regime against the people in the eastern and southern regions of the country. The IRI poll shows extremely high levels of dissatisfaction with the economic crisis and the war.

The poll will also be ignored by the Russophobes in the governments and mainstream political parties in the NATO member countries who decry “Russian aggression” and “Russian imperialism” in Ukraine, and by the many pseudo-lefts in the international arena who are acting as echo chambers of that messaging.

Similarly stunning results of polling of the Crimean people in late 2014 and early 2015 were ignored by the same constellation of forces. That polling showed extraordinarily high levels of satisfaction with the democratic decision of Crimeans in March 2014 to secede from Ukraine. The polls contradict the ongoing stories of Russian “annexation” of Crimea.

The 71-page report International Republican Institute polling report can be read here. Enclosed below are 11 selected charts from the poll:

IRI poll 4

iri 7

IRI poll 5

iri 8

iri 9

iri 10

IRI poll 6

IRI poll 1 Aug 2015

IRI poll 2

IRI poll 3

iri 11

August 27, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Bergen-Belsen Camp: The Suppressed Story

By Mark Weber | The Journal of Historical Review | May-June 1995

Fifty years ago, on April 15, 1945, British troops liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The anniversary was widely remembered in official ceremonies and in newspaper articles that, as the following essay shows, distort the camp’s true history.

Largely because of the circumstances of its liberation, the relatively unimportant German concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen has become — along with Dachau and Buchenwald — an international symbol of German barbarism.

The British troops who liberated the Belsen camp three weeks before the end of the war were shocked and disgusted by the many unburied corpses and dying inmates they found there. Horrific photos and films of the camp’s emaciated corpses and mortally sick inmates were quickly circulated around the globe. Within weeks the British military occupation newspaper proclaimed: “The story of that greatest of all exhibitions of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ which was Belsen Concentration Camp is known throughout the world.” (note 1)

Ghastly images recorded by Allied photographers at Belsen in mid-April 1945 and widely reproduced ever since have greatly contributed to the camp’s reputation as a notorious extermination center. In fact, the dead of Bergen-Belsen were, above all, unfortunate victims of war and its turmoil, not deliberate policy. It can even be argued that they were as much victims of Allied as of German measures.


Plan of the Bergen-Belsen camp

The Bergen-Belsen camp was located near Hannover in northwestern Germany on the site of a former army camp for wounded prisoners of war. In 1943 it was established as an internment camp (Aufenthaltslager) for European Jews who were to be exchanged for German citizens held by the Allies.

More than 9,000 Jews with citizenship papers or passports from Latin American countries, entry visas for Palestine, or other documents making them eligible for emigration, arrived in late 1943 and 1944 from Poland, France, Holland and other parts of Europe. During the final months of the war, several groups of these “exchange Jews” were transported from Axis-occupied Europe. German authorities transferred several hundred to neutral Switzerland, and at least one group of 222 Jewish detainees was transferred from Belsen (by way of neutral Turkey) to British-controlled Palestine. /2

Until late 1944 conditions were generally better than in other concentration camps. Marika Frank Abrams, a Jewish woman from Hungary, was transferred from Auschwitz in 1944. Years later she recalled her arrival at Belsen: “… We were each given two blankets and a dish. There was running water and latrines. We were given food that was edible and didn’t have to stand for hours to be counted. The conditions were so superior to Auschwitz we felt we were practically in a sanitarium.” /3

Inmates normally received three meals a day. Coffee and bread were served in the morning and evening, with cheese and sausage as available. The main mid-day meal consisted of one liter of vegetable stew. Families lived together. Otherwise, men and women were housed in separate barracks. /4

Children were also held there. There were some 500 Jewish children in Belsen’s “No. 1 Women’s Camp” section when British forces arrived. /5

During the final months of the war, tens of thousands of Jews were evacuated to Belsen from Auschwitz and other eastern camps threatened by the advancing Soviets. Belsen became severely overcrowded as the number of inmates increased from 15,000 in December 1944 to 42,000 at the beginning of March 1945, and more than 50,000 a month later. /6

Many of these Jewish prisoners had chosen to be evacuated westwards with their German captors rather than remain in eastern camps to await liberation by Soviet forces. /7

So catastrophic had conditions become during the final months of the war that about a third of the prisoners evacuated to Belsen in February and March 1945 perished during the journey and were dead on arrival. /8

As order broke down across Europe during those chaotic final months, regular deliveries of food and medicine to the camp stopped. Foraging trucks were sent to scrounge up whatever supplies of bread, potatoes and turnips were available in nearby towns. /9

Epidemic

Disease was kept under control by routinely disinfecting all new arrivals. But in early February 1945 a large transport of Hungarian Jews was admitted while the disinfection facility was out of order. As a result, typhus broke out and quickly spread beyond control. /10

Commandant Josef Kramer quarantined the camp in an effort to save lives, but SS camp administration headquarters in Berlin insisted that Belsen be kept open to receive still more Jewish evacuees arriving from the East. The death rate soon rose to 400 a day. /11

The worst killer was typhus, but typhoid fever and dysentery also claimed many lives. Aggravating the situation was a policy during the final months of transferring already sick inmates from other camps to Belsen, which was then officially designated a sick or convalescence camp (Krankenlager). The sick women of Auschwitz, for example, were transferred to Belsen in three groups in November-December 1944. /12

When SS chief Heinrich Himmler learned of the typhus outbreak at Bergen-Belsen, he immediately issued an order to all appropriate officials requiring that “all medical means necessary to combat the epidemic should be employed … There can be no question of skimping either with doctors or medical supplies.” However, the general breakdown of order that prevailed on Germany by this time made it impossible to implement the command. /13

‘Belsen Worst’

Violette Fintz, a Jewish woman who had been deported from the island of Rhodes to Auschwitz in mid-1944, and then to Dachau and, finally, in early 1945, to Belsen, later compared conditions in the different camps: /14

Belsen was in the beginning bearable and we had bunks to sleep on, and a small ration of soup and bread. But as the camp got fuller, our group and many others were given a barracks to hold about seven hundred lying on the floor without blankets and without food or anything. It was a pitiful scene as the camp was attacked by lice and most of the people had typhus and cholera … Many people talk about Auschwitz — it was a horrible camp. But Belsen, no words can describe it … From my experience and suffering, Belsen was the worst.

Belsen’s most famous inmate was doubtless Anne Frank, who had been evacuated from Auschwitz in late October 1944. She succumbed to typhus in March 1945, three or four weeks before liberation.

Kramer Reports a ‘Catastrophe’

In a March 1, 1945, letter to Gruppenführer (General) Richard Glücks, head of the SS camp administration agency, Commandant Kramer reported in detail on the catastrophic situation in the Bergen-Belsen, and pleaded for help: /15

If I had sufficient sleeping accommodation at my disposal, then the accommodation of the detainees who have already arrived and of those still to come would appear more possible. In addition to this question a spotted fever and typhus epidemic has now begun, which increases in extent every day. The daily mortality rate, which was still in the region of 60-70 at the beginning of February, has in the meantime attained a daily average of 250-300 and will increase still further in view of the conditions which at present prevail.

Supply. When I took over the camp, winter supplies for 1500 internees had been indented for; some had been received, but the greater part had not been delivered. This failure was due not only to difficulties of transport, but also to the fact that practically nothing is available in this area and all must be brought from outside the area …

For the last four days there has been no delivery [of food] from Hannover owing to interrupted communications, and I shall be compelled, if this state of affairs prevails till the end of the week, to fetch bread also by means of truck from Hannover. The trucks allotted to the local unit are in no way adequate for this work, and I am compelled to ask for at least three to four trucks and five to six trailers. When I once have here a means of towing then I can send out the trailers into the surrounding area … The supply question must, without fail, be cleared up in the next few days. I ask you, Gruppenführer, for an allocation of transport …

State of Health. The incidence of disease is very high here in proportion to the number of detainees. When you interviewed me on Dec. 1, 1944, at Oranienburg, you told me that Bergen-Belsen was to serve as a sick camp for all concentration camps in north Germany. The number of sick has greatly increased, particularly on account of the transports of detainees that have arrived from the East in recent times — these transports have sometimes spent eight or fourteen days in open trucks …

The fight against spotted fever is made extremely difficult by the lack of means of disinfection. Due to constant use, the hot-air delousing machine is now in bad working order and sometimes fails for several days …

A catastrophe is taking place for which no one wishes to assume responsibility … Gruppenführer, I can assure you that from this end everything will be done to overcome the present crisis …

I am now asking you for your assistance as it lies in your power. In addition to the above-mentioned points I need here, before everything, accommodation facilities, beds, blankets, eating utensils — all for about 20,000 internees … I implore your help in overcoming this situation.


Mass grave at Belsen camp, shortly after its liberation by British troops. Photographs such as this are widely reproduced as proof of a German policy of extermination. Contrary to Allied propaganda claims of the time, and Holocaust allegations in recent decades, though, these unfortunate prisoners were victims of typhus and starvation that were indirect consequences of the war – not of any deliberate policy. At least 14,000 Jews died in the camp following the British takeover.

Under such terrible conditions, Kramer did everything in his power to reduce suffering and prevent death among the inmates, even appealing to the hard-pressed German army. “I don’t know what else to do,” he told high-ranking army officers. “I have reached the limit. Masses of people are dying. The drinking water supply has broken down. A trainload of food was destroyed by low-flying [Allied] war planes. Something must be done immediately.” /16

Working together with both Commandant Kramer and chief inmate representative Kuestermeier, Colonel Hanns Schmidt responded by arranging for the local volunteer fire department to provide water. He also saw to it that food supplies were brought to the camp from abandoned rail cars. Schmidt later recalled that Kramer “did not at all impress one as a criminal type. He acted like an upright and rather honorable man. Neither did he strike me as someone with a guilty conscience. He worked with great dedication to improve conditions in the camp. For example, he rounded up horse drawn vehicles to bring food to the camp from rail cars that had been shot up.” /17

“I was swamped,” Kramer later explained to incredulous British military interrogators: /18

The camp was not really inefficient before you [British and American forces] crossed the Rhine. There was running water, regular meals of a kind — I had to accept what food I was given for the camp and distribute it the best way I could. But then they suddenly began to send me trainloads of new prisoners from all over Germany. It was impossible to cope with them. I appealed for more staff, more food. I was told that this was impossible. I had to carry on with what I had.

Then as a last straw the Allies bombed the electric plant that pumped our water. Loads of food were unable to reach the camp because of the Allied fighters. Then things really got out of hand. During the last six weeks I have been helpless. I did not even have sufficient staff to bury the dead, let alone segregate the sick … I tried to get medicines and food for the prisoners and I failed. I was swamped. I may have been hated, but I was doing my duty.

Kramer’s clear conscience is also suggested by the fact that he made no effort to save his life by fleeing, but instead calmly awaited the approaching British forces, naively confident of decent treatment. “When Belsen Camp was eventually taken over by the Allies,” he later stated, “I was quite satisfied that I had done all I possibly could under the circumstances to remedy the conditions in the camp.” /19

Negotiated Transfer

As British forces approached Bergen-Belsen, German authorities sought to turn over the camp to the British so that it would not become a combat zone. After some negotiation, it was peacefully transferred, with an agreement that “both British and German troops will make every effort to avoid battle in the area.” /20

A revealing account of the circumstances under which the British took control appeared in a 1945 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association: /21

By negotiations between British and German officers, British troops took over from the SS and the Wehrmacht the task of guarding the vast concentration camp at Belsen, a few miles northwest of Celle, which contains 60,000 prisoners, many of them political. This has been done because typhus is rampant in the camp and it is vital that no prisoners be released until the infection is checked. The advancing British agreed to refrain from bombing or shelling the area of the camp, and the Germans agreed to leave behind an armed guard which would be allowed to return to their own lines a week after the British arrival.

The story of the negotiations is curious. Two German officers presented themselves before the British outposts and explained that there were 9,000 sick in the camp and that all sanitation had failed. They proposed that the British should occupy the camp at once, as the responsibility was international in the interests of health. In return for the delay caused by the truce the Germans offered to surrender intact the bridges over the river Aller. After brief consideration the British senior officer rejected the German proposals, saying it was necessary that the British should occupy an area of ten kilometers round the camp in order to be sure of keeping their troops and lines of communication away from the disease. The British eventually took over the camp.

Brutal Mistreatment

On April 15, 1945, Belsen’s commanders turned over the camp to British troops, who lost no time mistreating the SS camp personnel. The Germans were beaten with rifle butts, kicked, and stabbed with bayonets. Most were shot or worked to death. /22

British journalist Alan Moorehead described the treatment of some of the camp personnel shortly after the takeover: /23

As we approached the cells of the SS guards, the [British] sergeant’s language become ferocious. “We had had an interrogation this morning,” the captain said. ‘I’m afraid they are not a pretty sight.’ … The sergeant unbolted the first door and … strode into the cell, jabbing a metal spike in front of him. “Get up,” he shouted. “Get up. Get up, you dirty bastards.” There were half a dozen men lying or half lying on the floor. One or two were able to pull themselves erect at once. The man nearest me, his shirt and face spattered with blood, made two attempts before he got on to his knees and then gradually on to his feet. He stood with his arms stretched out in front of him, trembling violently.

“Come on. Get up,” the sergeant shouted [in the next cell]. The man was lying in his blood on the floor, a massive figure with a heavy head and bedraggled beard … “Why don’t you kill me?” he whispered. “Why don’t you kill me? I can’t stand it any more.” The same phrases dribbled out of his lips over and over again. “He’s been saying that all morning, the dirty bastard,” the sergeant said.


Josef Kramer in British captivity. After a military trial, the former Bergen-Belsen Commandant was put to death.

Commandant Kramer, who was vilified in the British and American press as “The Beast of Belsen” and “The Monster of Belsen,” was put on trial and then executed, along with chief physician Dr. Fritz Klein and other camp officials. At his trial, Kramer’s defense attorney, Major T.C.M. Winwood, predicted: “When the curtain finally rings down on this stage Josef Kramer will, in my submission, stand forth not as ‘The Beast of Belsen’ but as ‘The Scapegoat of Belsen’.” /24

In an “act of revenge,” the British liberators expelled the residents of the nearby town of Bergen, and then permitted camp inmates to loot the houses and buildings. Much of the town was also set on fire. /25

Postwar Deaths

There were some 55,000 to 60,000 prisoners in Bergen-Belsen when the British took control of the camp. The new administrators proved no more capable of mastering the chaos than the Germans had been, and some 14,000 Jewish inmates died at Belsen in the months following the British takeover. /26

Although still occasionally referred to as an “extermination camp” or “mass murder” center, the truth about Bergen-Belsen has been quietly acknowledged by scholars. /27 In his 1978 survey of German history, University of Erlangen professor Helmut Diwald wrote of /28

… The notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where 50,000 inmates were supposedly murdered. Actually, about 7,000 inmates died during the period when the camp existed, from 1943 to 1945. Most of them died in the final months of the war as a result of disease and malnutrition — consequences of the bombings that had completely disrupted normal deliveries of medical supplies and food. The British commander who took control of the camp after the capitulation testified that crimes on a large scale had not taken place at Bergen-Belsen.

Martin Broszat, Director of the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, wrote in 1976: /29

… In Bergen-Belsen, for example, thousands of corpses of Jewish prisoners were found by British soldiers on the day of liberation, which gave the impression that this was one of the notorious extermination camps. Actually, many Jews in Bergen-Belsen as well as in the satellite camps of Dachau died in the last weeks before the end of the war as a result of the quickly improvised retransfers and evacuations of Jewish workers from the still existing ghettos, work camps and concentration camps in the East (Auschwitz) …

Dr. Russell Barton, an English physician who spent a month in Bergen-Belsen after the war with the British Army, has also explained the reasons for the catastrophic conditions found there: /30

Most people attributed the conditions of the inmates to deliberate intention on the part of the Germans in general and the camp administrators in particular. Inmates were eager to cite examples of brutality and neglect, and visiting journalists from different countries interpreted the situation according to the needs of propaganda at home.

For example, one newspaper emphasized the wickedness of the “German masters” by remarking that some of the 10,000 unburied dead were naked. In fact, when the dead were taken from a hut and left in the open for burial, other prisoners would take their clothing from them …

German medical officers told me that it had been increasingly difficult to transport food to the camp for some months. Anything that moved on the autobahns was likely to be bombed …

I was surprised to find records, going back for two or three years, of large quantities of food cooked daily for distribution. I became convinced, contrary to popular opinion, that there had never been a policy of deliberate starvation. This was confirmed by the large numbers of well-fed inmates. Why then were so many people suffering from malnutrition?… The major reasons for the state of Belsen were disease, gross overcrowding by central authority, lack of law and order within the huts, and inadequate supplies of food, water and drugs.

In trying to assess the causes of the conditions found in Belsen one must be alerted to the tremendous visual display, ripe for purposes of propaganda, that masses of starved corpses presented.

Gas Chamber Myths

Some former inmates and a few historians have claimed that Jews were put to death in gas chambers at Bergen-Belsen. For example, an “authoritative” work published shortly after the end of the war, A History of World War II, informed readers: “In Belsen, [Commandant] Kramer kept an orchestra to play him Viennese music while he watched children torn from their mothers to be burned alive. Gas chambers disposed of thousands of persons daily.” /31


A protest meeting in the Bergen-Belsen camp, September 1947. For five years following the end of the war, British authorities maintained the camp as a “Displaced Persons” center. During this period it flourished as a major black market center. At this pro-Zionist gathering of 4,000 Jews, camp leader Joseph Rosensaft speaks against British policy in Palestine.

In Jews, God and History, Jewish historian Max Dimont wrote of gassings at Bergen-Belsen. /32 A semi-official work published in Poland in 1981 claimed that women and babies were “put to death in gas chambers” at Belsen. /33

In 1945 the Associated Press news agency reported: /34

In Lueneburg, Germany, a Jewish physician, testifying at the trial of 45 men and women for war crimes at the Belsen and Oswiecim [Auschwitz] concentration camps, said that 80,000 Jews, representing the entire ghetto of Lodz, Poland, had been gassed or burned to death in one night at the Belsen camp.

Five decades after the camp’s liberation, British army Captain Robert Daniell recalled seeing “the gas chambers” there. /35

Years after the war, Robert Spitz, a Hungarian Jew, remembered taking a shower at Belsen in February 1945: “… It was delightful. What I didn’t know then was that there were other showers in the same building where gas came out instead of water.” /36

Another former inmate, Moshe Peer, recalled a miraculous escape from death as an eleven-year-old in the camp. In a 1993 interview with a Canadian newspaper, the French-born Peer claimed that he “was sent to the [Belsen] camp gas chamber at least six times.” The newspaper account went on to relate: “Each time he survived, watching with horror as many of the women and children gassed with him collapsed and died. To this day, Peer doesn’t know how he was able to survive.” In an effort to explain the miracle, Peer mused: “Maybe children resist better, I don’t know.” (Although Peer claimed that “Bergen-Belsen was worse than Auschwitz,” he acknowledged that he and his younger brother and sister, who were deported to the camp in 1944, all somehow survived internment there.) /37

Such gas chamber tales are entirely fanciful. As early as 1960, historian Martin Broszat had publicly repudiated the Belsen gassing story. These days no reputable scholar supports it. /38

Exaggerated Death Estimates

Estimates of the number of people who died in Bergen-Belsen have ranged widely over the years. Many have been irresponsible exaggerations. Typical is a 1985 York Daily News report, which told readers that “probably 100,000 died at Bergen-Belsen.” /39 An official German government publication issued in 1990 declared that “more than 50,000 people had been murdered” in the Belsen camp under German control, and “an additional 13,000 died in the first weeks after liberation.” /40

Closer to the truth is the Encyclopaedia Judaica, which maintains that 37,000 perished in the camp before the British takeover, and another 14,000 afterwards. /41

Whatever the actual number of dead, Belsen’s victims were not “murdered,” and the camp was not an “extermination” center.

Black Market Center

From 1945 until 1950, when it was finally shut down, the British maintained Belsen as a camp for displaced European Jews. During this period it achieved new notoriety as a major European black market center. The “uncrowned king” of Belsen’s 10,000 Jews was Yossl (Josef) Rosensaft, who amassed tremendous profits from the illegal trading. Rosensaft had been interned in various camps, including Auschwitz, before arriving in Belsen in early April 1945. /42

British Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Morgan, chief of “displaced persons” operations in postwar Germany for the United Nations relief organization UNRRA recalled in his memoir that /43

under Zionist auspices there had been organized at Belsen a vast illegitimate trading organization with worldwide ramifications and dealing in a wide range of goods, principally precious metals and stones. A money market dealt with a wide range of currencies. Goods were being imported in cryptically marked containers consigned in UNRRA shipments to Jewish voluntary agencies …

Legacy

A kind of memorial center now draws many tourists annually to the camp site. Not surprisingly, Bergen’s 13,000 residents are not very pleased with their town’s infamous reputation. Citizens report being called “murderers” during visits to foreign countries. /44

In striking contrast to the widely-accepted image of Belsen, which is essentially a product of hateful wartime propaganda, is the suppressed, albeit grim, historical reality. In truth, the Bergen-Belsen story may be regarded as the Holocaust story in miniature.
Notes

  1. Walter Laqueur, The Terrible Secret: Suppression of the Truth about Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’ (Boston: Little Brown, 1980), p. 1.
  2. Testimony of Commandant Kramer in: Raymond Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others (The Belsen Trial) (London: William Hodge, 1949), p. 160; “Bergen-Belsen,” Encyclopaedia Judaica (New York and Jerusalem: Macmillan and Keter, 1971), Vol. 4, p. 610. According to this source, one group of 136 of these “exchange Jews” was deported from Belsen during the war to neutral Switzerland, and another group of 222 was transferred to Palestine.; According to an Israeli newspaper report, a group of 222 “exchange” Jews reportedly left Bergen-Belsen on June 29, 1944, and, by way of Istanbul, arrived in Palestine on July 10. (Israel Nachrichten, quoted in: D. National-Zeitung, Munich, Sept. 23, 1994, p. 5)
  3. Sylvia Rothchild, ed., Voices from the Holocaust (New York: NAL, 1981), p. 190.
  4. Josef Kramer statement (1945) in: R. Phillips, Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, pp. 731-737. This is also in: Arthur Butz, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (Newport Beach: Institute for Historical Review, 1993), pp. 272-274.
  5. R. Phillips, Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, pp. 19, 32, 33; Roman Hrabar, with Zofia Tokarz and J. E. Wilczur, The Fate of Polish Children During the Last War (Warsaw: Interpress, 1981), p. 76.
  6. Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. 4, p. 610; Gedenkbuch: Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft (Koblenz: Bundesarchiv, 1986; 2 vols.), pp. 1761-1762.
  7. Testimony of Dr. Russell Barton, Feb. 7, 1985, in the first “Holocaust” trial of Ernst Zündel. Official trial transcript, pp. 2916-2917; See also Barton’s testimony during the second, 1988 Zündel trial in: Barbara Kulaszka, ed., Did Six Million Really Die? (Toronto: Samisdat, 1992), p. 175, and, Robert Lenski, The Holocaust on Trial: The Case of Ernst Zündel (Decatur, Ala.: Reporter Press, 1990), p. 159.
  8. Testimony of Commandant Kramer in: R. Phillips, Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, p. 162.
  9. Josef Kramer statement (1945) in: R. Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, pp. 731-737. Also in: A. Butz, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, p. 274.
  10. Derrick Sington, Belsen Uncovered (London: 1946), pp. 117-118. Quoted in: A. Butz, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, pp. 34-35; Gerald Reitlinger, The Final Solution (London: Sphere Books, pb., 1971), p. 504 (note).
  11. R. Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, pp. 152-153, 166-167, 734, 736; Tom Bower, Blind Eye to Murder (London: Granada, 1983), p. 224; Dr. Ernst von Briesen, “Was passierte in Bergen-Belsen wirklich?,” D. National-Zeitung (Munich), Jan. 13, 1984, pp. 4, 5, 8.
  12. G.Reitlinger, The Final Solution, p. 497 (and 638, n. 23).
  13. Andre Biss, A Million Jews to Save (New York: A.S. Barnes, 1975), pp. 242, 249-250; Felix Kersten, The Kersten Memoirs, 1940-1945 (New York: Macmillan, 1957), p. 276.
  14. Martin Gilbert, The Holocaust (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1986), pp. 722, 785-786.
  15. R. Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, pp. 163-166.
  16. Signed report by retired Colonel (Oberst a.D.) Hanns Schmidt to Kurt Mehner and Lt. Colonel Bechtold, Braunschweig, March 3, 1981. Photocopy in author’s possession.
  17. Signed report by Hanns Schmidt to Kurt Mehner and Lt. Colonel Bechtold, March 3, 1981. Photocopy in author’s possession.
  18. Essay by Alan Moorehead, “Belsen,” in: Cyril Connolly, ed., The Golden Horizon (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1953), pp. 109-110.
  19. Josef Kramer statement (1945) in: R. Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, p. 737. Also quoted in: A. Butz, Hoax, p. 275; Essay by Alan Moorehead, “Belsen,” in: Cyril Connolly, ed., The Golden Horizon, pp. 109-110; Dr. Russell Barton, “Belsen,” History of the Second World War (Editor: Barrie Pitt, Copyright BPC publications, 1966), Part 109, 1975, p. 3025.
  20. R. Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, pp. 396-397.
  21. “Typhus Causes a Truce,” The Journal of the American Medical Association (Chicago), May 19, 1945, p. 220.
  22. Leonard O. Mosley, Report from Germany (1945). Quoted in: Montgomery Belgion, Victor’s Justice (Regnery, 1949), p. 80 (and p. 81); Time magazine, April 29, 1985, p. 21; See also essay by A. Moorehead, “Belsen,” in: Cyril Connolly, ed., The Golden Horizon (London: 1953), pp. 105-106.
  23. Essay by A. Moorehead, “Belsen,” in: Cyril Connolly, ed., The Golden Horizon, pp. 105-106.
  24. R. Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, p. 156.
  25. “Bergen-Belsen,” Der Spiegel (Hamburg), Nr. 30, 1985, pp. 71, 72.
  26. “Holocaust,” Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. 8, p. 859; M. Gilbert, The Holocaust (1986), pp. 793-795; See also: R. Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, pp. 20, 46-47; According to a 1992 Associated Press report, more than 60,000 prisoners were held in Belsen camp when it was liberated. Then, “in the first five days of liberation, 14,000 prisoners died and another 14,000 perished in the following weeks.” Graham Heathcote, AP from Tostock, England, “2 hours changed me for the rest of my life,” Orlando Sentinel (Florida), Dec. 20, 1992, p. A 29, and, “Journey into hell,” The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington), Dec. 20, 1992.
  27. Time magazine, April 29, 1985, p. 21, referred to Belsen as a camp created for the “extermination” of “the Jewish people.”
  28. Helmut Diwald, Geschichte der Deutschen (Frankfurt: Propyläen, first ed., 1978), pp. 164-165.
  29. M. Broszat, “Zur Kritik der Publizistik des antisemitischen Rechtsextremismus,” Supplement B 19/76 of May 8, 1976, to the weekly newspaper Das Parlament (Bonn), p. 6. Revised from issue No. 2, 1976, of the Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte (Munich).
  30. Dr. R. Barton, “Belsen,” History of the Second World War, Part 109, 1975, pp. 3025-3029; Barton confirmed this evaluation in testimony given in the 1985 and 1988 Toronto trials of German-Canadian publisher Ernst Zündel. On Barton’s testimony in the first, 1985 trial, see: “View of Belsen was propaganda, trial told,” The Globe and Mail (Toronto), Feb. 8, 1985, pp. M1, M5, and, “Disease killed Nazis’ prisoners, MD says,” Toronto Star, Feb. 8, 1985, p. A2; On Barton’s testimony in the second, 1988 Zündel trial, see: Barbara Kulaszka, ed., Did Six Million Really Die?, pp. 175-180, and, R. Lenski, The Holocaust on Trial (1990), pp. 157-160; Among his other positions after the war, Barton was superintendent and consultant psychiatrist at Severalls Hospital (Essex, England), and director of the Rochester Psychiatric Center (New York).
  31. Francis Trevelyan Miller, Litt.D., LLD, A History of World War II (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Co., 1945), p. 868.
  32. M. Dimont, Jews, God and History (New York: Signet/NAL, pb., 1962?), p. 383.
  33. R. Hrabar, et al, The Fate of Polish Children During the Last War (Warsaw: 1981), p. 76.
  34. The Associated Press News Annual: 1945, p. 404.
  35. M. Holland, “The horrors of Belsen,” Sunday Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia), Jan. 22, 1995, p. 93; M. Holland, “Man who uncovered the horror of Belsen,” Sunday Times (Perth, W. Australia), Feb. 5, 1995, p. 2.
  36. S. Rothchild, ed., Voices From the Holocaust, p. 197.
  37. K. Seidman, “Surviving the horror,” The Gazette (Montreal, Canada), August 5, 1993. Facsimile reprint in: The Journal of Historical Review, Nov.-Dec. 1993, p. 24.
  38. Die Zeit (Hamburg), August 19, 1960, p. 16. (U.S. edition: August 26, 1960.) Facsimile and translation in The Journal of Historical Review, May-June 1993, p. 12.
  39. “Bergen-Belsen,” Daily News (New York), April 20, 1985, p. 3.
  40. “Ceremony Recalls Victims of Bergen-Belsen,” The Week in Germany (New York: German Information Center), April 27, 1990, p. 6; A figure of 50,000 is also given in Time magazine, April 29, 1985, p. 21; According to a stone memorial at the Belsen camp site, 30,000 Jews were “exterminated” there; A semi-official Polish account published in 1980 reported 48,000 Belsen “victims.” Czeslaw Pilichowski, No Time Limit for These Crimes (Warsaw: Interpress, 1980), pp. 154-155.
  41. “Bergen-Belsen,” Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), vol. 4, pp. 610-612; Colonel Schmidt, the German officer who worked to alleviate conditions in Belsen during the final weeks and also arranged for the camp’s surrender to the British, estimated that “altogether about 8,000 people” died in the camp. (This figure may, however, only include victims of the final chaotic weeks under German control.) Source: Signed report by Oberst a.D. Hanns Schmidt to Kurt Mehner and Lt. Colonel Bechtold, Braunschweig, March 3, 1981. (Cited above.) Photocopy in author’s possession.
  42. L. Dawidowicz, “Belsen Remembered,” Commentary (New York: American Jewish Comm.), March 1966, pp. 84, 85; D. National-Zeitung (Munich), March 21, 1986, p. 4; M. Gilbert, The Holocaust, pp. 690, 793.
  43. F. Morgan, Peace and War (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1961), p. 259.
  44. “Bergen-Belsen,” Der Spiegel, Nr. 30, 1985, pp. 71, 72.

From The Journal of Historical Review, May-June 1995 (Vol. 15, No. 3), pages 23-30.

August 26, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Indian anti-corruption official: state “orchestrated” Islamist terror

Mumbai atrocities enabled by intelligence operations of India, Pakistan and the United States

By Nafeez Ahmed | INSURGE INTELLIGENCE | August 24, 2015

A senior Indian police officer and anti-corruption investigator last month accused the Indian government of orchestrating the Mumbai terror attacks which occurred nearly seven years ago, according to an Indian government official.

R. V. S. Mani, a former undersecretary in India’s home ministry now in the urban development ministry, testified in July that a senior police officer who investigated the 2004 ‘encounter killings’ of four Indian Muslims in Gujarat by the Ahmedabad Police Crime Branch, had told him that the 2008 Mumbai attacks were “set up” by the Indian government.

The police officer, Satish Verma — currently Principal at the Police Training College in Junagadh — is well-known for his secondment to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India’s elite anti-corruption law enforcement agency, to lead the probe into the 2004 ‘encounter killings.’

The 2004 victims were Ishrat Jahan Raza, a 19-year-old girl from Mumbra, Maharashtra, and three men — Pranesh Pillai (alias Javed Gulam Sheikh), Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar. Gujarat police authorities with the support of Indian government officials claimed that the killings were justified due to credible intelligence linking the four to Islamist terrorists.

Anti-corruption investigator blames government for terror

According to Mani, who has signed affidavits submitted to court on the encounter killings, Satish Verma privately accused successive Indian governments of “orchestrating” not only the Mumbai terror attacks, but also the December 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi.

Verma made the allegations while questioning Mani on Indian government claims that intelligence proved Ishrat Jahan’s links to Islamist terrorists. According to the Times of India, the former home ministry official revealed in his affidavits that Verma had said the terror attacks were set up by the government “with the objective of strengthening the counter-terror legislation.”

Verma allegedly claimed that:

“… the 13.12. 2001 (attack on Parliament) was followed by Pota (Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act) and 26/11 2008 (terrorists’ siege of Mumbai) was followed by amendment to the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act).”

According to the Times, Verma refused to confirm or deny Mani’s account of his allegations. “I cannot speak to the media on such matters. Ask the CBI,” he said.

Neither Verma or Mani could be reached for comment.

The allegations have been used by the Indian government to cast doubt on Verma’s role in the CBI investigation

This is not the first time that the Indian government has attempted to use Verma’s work against him. In April last year, Verma complained before India’s Central Administrative Tribune that he was a target of government harassment due to its “intense dislike” of his work investigating the Israt Jahan fake encounter case, and the Gujarat government’s role in it.

Staged counter-terror operation

All three incidents — the 2001 attack on Parliament, 2004 ‘encounter killings’ and the 2011 Mumbai attacks — have been linked to terrorists from the al-Qaeda affiliated Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which also has close ties to Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

The CBI’s investigation into the controversial 2004 ‘encounter killings’ found that they had been “staged” by Gujarat police forces, concluding there was no evidence justifying claims that Ishrat Jahan and her fellow victims were members of Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The verdict, outlined in the CBI’s 2013 charge sheet, stated that the police attacks were carried out in cold blood, and “staged” by Gujarat police and the government’s Intelligence Bureau (IB):

“The above said fake encounter was a result of Joint operation of Gujarat Police and SIB [State Intelligence Bureau], Ahmedabad. In this operation the overt acts committed by the accused Gujarat Police officers have been established by the evidence on record.”

The CBI chargesheet corroborated the conclusions of an earlier investigation by an Ahmedabad Metropolitan court, which in 2009 had determined the killings were staged Gujarat intelligence and police officials.

Gujarat authorities claim that IB intelligence showed that Ishrat and the other men were planning to assassinate Modi on behalf of Lashkar-e-Taiba.

But according to the CBI probe, “the four people were illegally confined at three different farmhouses for days before the encounter on June 15, 2004.” India’s NDTV reported that the CBI probe had confirmed that weapons found near their bodies, including an AK-56, “were supplied by the Intelligence Bureau.”

India’s Intelligence Bureau: creating terror to fight terror

The Indian state of Gujarat, where incumbent Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi was chief minister during this period, is home to a sizeable Muslim minority.

Reviewing the CBI charge sheet and related evidence, Indian journalists Hartosh Singh Bal and Mihir Srivastava noted that the CBI probe had confirmed the role of senior Indian IB officials, “including at least in one case the then IB head in Gujarat, Rajinder Kumar,” who is close to Narenda Modi.

Bal and Srivastava interviewed several senior IB officials who confirmed that “the Ishrat Jahan case was a successful IB operation,” but denied that the encounter victims were disassociated from terrorism.

“The encounter was fake no doubt, according to them, but the information that Ishrat and the other three were part of a larger terror network was true. They went on to say that this was a successful intelligence operation, as the IB was able to infiltrate their sleeper cell and plant informers.”

Bal and Srivastava’s account of one of these interviews provides further alarming evidence of the extent to which counter-terrorism intelligence operations can facilitate terrorism. One high-level Intelligence Bureau executive told the pair:

“… there are hundreds of operations underway at any point of time where an informer has been planted in a sleeper network. This involves being in the company of drug and arms dealers, fake currency smugglers, explosive experts and contract killers. Some operations involve working with the mafia and dealing in and supplying arms. There are safe houses in which certain terrorists are kept, briefed and debriefed, then pushed back into the terror network to extricate information.”

In one particularly alarming passage, the journalists recount that IB officials confirm about 5,000 telephone numbers are being monitored in Delhi. On “special occasions” Indian intelligence services make bespoke IB simcards “available to terror networks and sleeper cells to monitor their activities…

“There have been a few cases where attacks were carried out by terrorists using IB simcards. ‘If these cases were to be investigated, the CBI would say the IB carried out terror attacks. We have a job at hand,’ says the IB official.”

In this context, the revelation that CBI Israt Jahan probe member Satish Verma reportedly accuses the Indian government of facilitating other terrorist attacks linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba raises fundamental questions about the extent to which the lack of democratic oversight over intelligence methods is compromising national security.

The triple cross behind the Mumbai atrocity

Those questions are also relevant in light of the fact that alleged Mumbai attack terror mastermind, David Coleman Headley, was a longtime CIA asset and triple agent.

A previous Times of India investigation in late 2013 found that Headley, who had worked for the CIA for eleven years, had penetrated Lashkar-e-Taiba on behalf of the US intelligence agency and collaborated closely with senior Pakistani ISI officials in planning the Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people and wounded 304.

Senior intelligence officials from a US Joint Terrorism Task Force described Headley as a “prized counter-terrorism asset,” whose “proximity” to the attack plans allowed the CIA to repeatedly tip off their Indian counterparts. But, the report revealed, despite his instrumental role in creating and executing those plans, Headley “was allowed to remain in place even as the attack was realized.”

A US intelligence official with expertise on Afghanistan and Pakistan denied that Headley was ever connected to the CIA on condition of anonymity.

Yet Headley’s intimate ties to the US intelligence community emerged in the 2011 Chicago terror trial of Headley’s alleged co-conspirator in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Tahawwur Rana, during which Rana’s attorney Charlie Swift described Headley as a “master manipulator” who worked simultaneously for the US Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA), the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI.

Those allegations raised in court were vindicated when Swift obtained a ‘not guilty’ verdict for Rana for the Mumbai attacks, although Rana was instead convicted of providing support to Lashkar-e-Taiba.

According to the Times of India investigation by British journalists Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, the Americans wanted to keep Headley running due to how he had gained the trust of a senior al-Qaeda operative, who was close to Osama bin Laden and among the al-Qaeda chief’s potential successors:

“Indian intelligence agents accused their US counterparts of protecting Headley and leaving him in the field, despite the imminent threat to Mumbai. Irate Indian officials claimed that Headley’s Mumbai plot was allowed to run on by his US controllers, as to spool it in would have jeopardized his involvement in another critical US operation.”

The CIA, on the other hand, pointed the finger straight back at India. One senior CIA official accused Indian intelligence of “incompetence” for failing to act on the US agency’s multiple detailed warnings of an impending Islamist assault on Mumbai.

Although many of the US bulletins even reached police authorities patrolling Mumbai, the intelligence warnings were “ignored or downplayed” by Indian officials according to the Times.

Ironically, both the CIA and Indian accusations and counter-accusations all appear to bear significant merit. US officials have maintained a studious silence on David Headley and his CIA patronage to this day, refusing to throw light on the conflict of interest that enabled the Mumbai terror mastermind to “run amok in the field,” in the words of the Times.

Simultaneously, the lack of an in-depth Indian government postmortem into the Mumbai attacks has permitted Indian intelligence agencies to evade awkward questions about their failure to pursue the CIA’s leads on the unfolding plot.

Cover-up

It is not just the Pakistani ISI, then, that has scrambled to cover-up its complicity in the Mumbai attacks. American and Indian intelligence agencies are also busy playing the blame game while maneuvering to conceal their own dubious roles in running ill-conceived intelligence operations enabling the terror attacks.

When under interrogation by Indian police, Headley was under the supervision of FBI officials at all times. Under his plea bargain with US authorities, he agreed to say no more than what he first confessed to the FBI, and in return will avoid the death penalty in the US, as well as extradition to India or Pakistan.

Confidential Indian intelligence records show that Headley had three local contacts on the ground in Mumbai who assisted him with his surveillance and reconnaissance activities in preparation for the terror plot. Yet for reasons unknown, Indian authorities chose not to investigate Headley’s local connections as identified in these files.

Even Headley’s alleged Pakistani handler, ISI officer Sajid Mir (also known as Sajeed Majeed) who played a major role in the Mumbai attacks, continues to operate with impunity.

Despite the US, French and Indian governments possessing detailed intelligence on Mir’s international terrorist activity, Pakistan continues to protect him with few objections from the West.

This has not stopped US and Indian intelligence agencies from giving each other a helping hand where it counts, while still pointing fingers.

Under US supervision and constrained by the terms of his plea bargain, Headley told Indian intelligence officers who had flown to Chicago in July 2010 that Israt Jahan was a member of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s suicide bomb squad.

Yet Headley’s reconnaissance missions for Lashkar began two years after Jahan and three other men were killed in the ‘fake encounter’, staged by Indian authorities according to a CBI investigation.

Headley’s claim was leapt on by Gujarat authorities to justify their story of the 2004 encounter killings.

Both US and Indian authorities, it seems, are keen to discredit the shocking conclusions of the CBI’s anti-corruption investigators.

~

Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. A former Guardian writer, he writes the ‘System Shift’ column for VICE’s Motherboard, and is also a columnist for Middle East Eye.

He is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award, known as the ‘Alternative Pulitzer Prize’, for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian work, and was selected in the Evening Standard’s ‘Power 1,000’ most globally influential Londoners.

Nafeez has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, New Internationalist, Counterpunch, Truthout, among others. He is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Faculty of Science and Technology at Anglia Ruskin University.

Nafeez is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It (2010).

August 26, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , | 1 Comment

Who is doing the saber-rattling in Eastern Europe?

By Vladimir KOZIN | Oriental Review | August 25, 2015

Last week, NATO headquarters announced Exercise Swift Response-15, the largest Allied airborne training event on the European continent since the end of the Cold War. About 5,000 soldiers from 11 countries in the alliance will take part in the maneuvers, which will last until Sept. 13.

This is neither the first nor the last drill to be conducted by NATO, the largest military alliance in the world.

Over the past year and a half, NATO armed forces have almost doubled the number of military exercises they have staged near the Russian border: between 2012 and 2013 they conducted an average of 95 such training events per year, but there have already been 150 so far in 2015, and flights by reconnaissance aircraft along the Russian frontier have increased tenfold.

But in an attempt to unfairly place the blame on Russia for such exercises, the London-based European Leadership Network issued a report on Aug. 12 that uses a flawed methodology to compare one type of exercise held in Russia in 2015 with another kind of military drill organized by NATO this year. Criticism was only leveled at the large number of troops involved in the Russian exercise, because the alliance’s drill was smaller on that scale. The report’s purpose was obvious: to shift the entirety of the West’s own culpability for war preparations in Europe onto the Russians.

  • First of all, it makes no sense to compare only two military drills conducted by opposing sides; one needs to take into account all the exercises that are being held, including the sum total of their scope and focus (the scenarios being rehearsed). In this regard, it should be noted that the aggregate number of NATO personnel taking part in the alliance’s military maneuvers is significantly greater than the estimate of troops involved in the Russian military exercises.
  • Second, in regard to this matter, one must also acknowledge that it was not Russia who initiated this upsurge in military drills. The US and its closest NATO allies took that first step under contrived pretenses. For this reason, the European Leadership Network’s proposals to limit the number and scope of military exercises in Europe should be primarily directed at Washington and the alliance, not at Russia.
  • Third, one cannot overlook the fact that many NATO members (the US, UK, France, Germany, and others) conduct their military drills far from their own borders. The Russian armed forces almost always oversee this training within their own country.
  • Fourth, it should be noted that in addition to periodic military maneuvers, a special NATO Response Force has been created that will consist of up to 40,000 soldiers who can be quickly airlifted to wherever they need to be. In addition, the US Navy must now be able to instantly mobilize the resources to form “expeditionary forces” that can be rapidly deployed to any part of the world (for example, as part of a Marine brigade including up to 17 amphibious ships or a joint Marine Air-Ground Task Force with as many as 75,000 personnel). For comparison, a recent NATO Baltops naval exercise in the seas around northwestern Europe involved 49 warships and support vessels from 17 countries within the alliance.
  • Fifth, it is important to note that while NATO has 24,000 combat aircraft and 800 ocean-going ships at its disposal, Russia does not own nearly so much equipment of that type. What’s more, the Pentagon is planning a further expansion of the forward deployment of its armed forces. That would station US troops, on a permanent or temporary basis, within more than 100 nations. There are plans to begin prepositioning weapons and military equipment in these countries, as is “needed to equip troops fighting in forward combat zones.”
  • Sixth, during these military drills, the Pentagon is rehearsing scenarios for armed intervention intended to overthrow undesirable regimes. For example, throughout the post-war period, the United States and its allies have employed military force more than 50 times, and six times that has escalated into regional armed conflicts.

Even NATO’s leaders have acknowledged the alliance’s military buildup on Russia’s doorstep. According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in 2014 these numbers have quintupled since 2013. And NATO member states’ naval operations have increased fourfold during this period.

In particular, the air forces of the 15 NATO countries that take part in the Baltic Air Policing operation over the Baltic states ramped up their activities more than 1,240 times (when calculated in flying hours) since it was launched 11 years ago. This operation is underway 24/7, year-round. Four of the types of planes used in this drill are considered “dual-capable” aircraft that can carry either conventional or tactical nuclear weapons.

At the same time the United States is refusing to adopt the new Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), proposing to revive the former act, which also never went into effect through the fault of its NATO signatories. New talks on CFE-2 have not even begun. At the same time, eight additional military bases in Eastern and Southern Europe, as well as seven command and administrative centers, plus American heavy weaponry and AEW&C aircraft have been added to the 150 military bases belonging to the United States and its allies that are immediately adjacent or relatively close to Russia’s borders.

Without exception, every military exercise that the alliance has recently staged in Europe has had very focused objectives. They are rehearsing scenarios that test the use of the Rapid Reaction Force, which includes the transportation of personnel and heavy equipment over long distances, the interaction between different varieties and formats of armed forces, and the operational “coupling” between the command and control structures. There is no doubt that such exercises have an anti-Russian bias, mainly because, as already noted, they are primarily (up to 55%) conducted in zones adjacent to the Russian borders. For example, an exercise that included 140 armored vehicles and 1,400 troops near the Estonian city of Narva in February of this year was held only 300 meters away from the Russian border.

In mid-February of this year the Pentagon shipped twelve A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft to Spangdahlem Air Base (Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany), which will be deployed in Eastern Europe. There is no doubt about the identity of the potential enemy. Eight of these aircraft were flown to the Ämari Air Base (Estonia) in June of this year. And five USAF B-52H and B-2 strategic heavy bombers were sent to RAF Fairford in Great Britain to participate in NATO military exercises.

In March of this year NATO organized the Joint Viking military exercises in northern Norway near the Russian border, which was an event unprecedented since 1990. Over 5,000 troops and 400 units of military equipment were involved. During these drills, the naval and air forces of the region’s NATO countries were placed on alert. The last time a similar drill was conducted was in 1967.

In March and April of 2015 the US, Swedish, and Finnish air forces directed military maneuvers near the Finnish town of Pori, flying sorties with Gripen, F-16, and Hornet fighter jets. In May, the air forces from eight NATO member states staged the Arctic Challenge Exercise in Norway, which included more than 100 aircraft. In early May of this year major military drills known as Siil-2015 were held in Estonia, involving 13,000 troops. This was the first time such large-scale drills had been conducted inside Estonia.

The Pentagon is planning to set up warehouses of military equipment in NATO’s eastern flank in order to conduct “ongoing exercises on a rotational basis.” For these purposes, 1,200 armored vehicles, including 250 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles, as well as artillery systems, are to be stockpiled in Eastern Europe. US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter claims that Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Poland have already agreed to house this military equipment within their borders. Some types of weaponry can also be stationed in Germany, where, just like after WWII, large numbers of American troops are already concentrated.

In light of the increased US military aid to the regime in Kiev that will be used in the genocide of Ukrainian citizens, these military preparations are taking on a plainly anti-Russian flavor.

Nor can we ignore America’s tactical nuclear weapons, which since the early 1950s have been deployed in four European countries (Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany), as well as the Asian part of Turkey. Furthermore, a US missile defense system will be installed in Romania in 2015, and then another three years later in Poland. These military forces and infrastructures are certainly not aimed at Iran. So how should Russians react to all of this, and who is actually rattling his saber in Eastern Europe?

August 25, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

MH17 And Other Traps To Avoid

By Christopher Black – New Eastern Outlook – 25.08.2015

The propaganda machine in the west is once again ramping up and spewing out one false claim after another about the shoot down of MH17 last year over eastern Ukraine and each story is more absurd than the one before it. On the 13th of August the British newspaper, mistakenly called The Independent, made the bizarre claim that Russia has “stoked tensions with the West by burning Dutch flowers in what is regarded as a political statement over the investigation into the Malaysian Airlines flight disaster headed by The Netherlands.”

The Independent states that its source for this garbage rests on unnamed “critics” and then goes on to repeat the NATO party line that Russia is trying to block the facts from coming out.

Just two days before this the BBC claimed a leak from the Dutch investigation indicated Russian missile parts were found at the site. However they failed to mention later that Dutch investigators refuted this mysterious leak and stated their investigation did not conclude that at all. Both these stories made sure to repeat that Russia had blocked a UN tribunal from being formed to look into the crash and punish those responsible.

Dr. Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian Ambassador to the UK and former deputy foreign minister, captured the situation in this statement made on July 31, 2015, in regard to the call for a UN tribunal,

“Why the rush? Is it to help the investigation, or rather to replace it? Progress towards justice must be seen. So far, we have seen nothing. Our partners preferred to conduct a vote that is impossible to explain by any other motive than seeking a fresh pretext for pointing a finger at Russia. It is only to be regretted that the unity and authority of the Security Council has once again become hostage to political ambitions having nothing to do with either justice or a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Ukraine in its entirety. For its part, Russia will continue to seek both.”

He went on to correctly point out that the only ones blocking the findings of the investigation from coming out are the NATO countries and its ally Australia who refuse to release any of the findings of the investigators and have delayed the report until October of 2015. Russia is not blocking anything. It was the first country to demand a full and independent investigation into the matter and, to ensure that, helped to pushed through Security Council Resolution 2166 on July 21, 2014 that deplored the incident, stressed the need for a full, thorough and independent investigation in accordance with civil aviation guidelines, called for the involvement of the International Civil Aviation Organization, called for securing the crash site and safety of investigators and demanded that those responsible be held accountable.

What did the Americans and their puppets in Kiev do? Nothing except to launch an immediate and intense propaganda campaign against Russia going so far as to pin responsibility on President Putin personally. They even claimed that they had evidence. But they have produced none. Russia asked them for this purported evidence multiple times and each time they were met with silence followed by another volley of propaganda aimed at confusing the western public and covering up the fact that they do not want the Dutch report released for if that investigation had evidence that Russia was involved we can be sure it would have been plastered all over the mass media long ago, instead of these small leaks that drip out on a regular basis to keep the pot boiling.

While NATO engaged in propaganda games Russia insistently called for a transparent, independent and honest investigation, quickly supplied to the investigators its satellite and radar data, eyewitness reports, and technical information regarding Buk missile systems and offered to assist in the investigation. The Americans have said nothing about any of this information of course because all of it points to their allies in Kiev being responsible for the shoot down and because the United States was involved or became complicit by protecting its allies from facing responsibility for their actions.

As for the MH17 tribunal demanded by the probable culprits the United States and its dependencies in NATO and Kiev, Russia was correct to reject that demand and correct to veto the draft resolution.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the push by NATO countries for a UN tribunal to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the shoot down was an intentional provocation against Russia. There was no other purpose for this NATO initiative than to use it to demonize the Russian leadership, to increase the negative war propaganda being put out by the NATO alliance and ultimately to use it as justification for further aggression against the peoples of east Ukraine and Russia.

There must be no doubt in any reasonable person’s mind that the only result of the creation of such a tribunal by the Security Council was to be an indictment against President Putin himself accusing him of some type of command responsibility. Once Putin was indicted as a war criminal, the anti-Russian propaganda in the west would increase beyond even the intense levels it now has reached.

We saw what happened to President Milosevic of Yugoslavia when the Yugoslav tribunal indicted him with war crimes at a point during the NATO attack in 1999 when the French and Germans were looking for a political solution. The US driven indictment, arranged through their agent Louise Arbour, effectively killed a political solution since as Arbour stated, and I paraphrase, “you can’t negotiate with a war criminal.”

The same happened to Muammar Gaddafi. The International Criminal Court, again through its US marionettes in the prosecution, labelled him a war criminal and used it to justify their destruction of Libya. Both Milosevic and Gaddafi ended up dead at NATO’s hands.

What’s more the UN Charter does not give the Security Council the right or jurisdiction to create these ad hoc tribunals and in fact this possibility was explicitly excluded when the International Court of Justice was created which has very limited jurisdiction and none over criminal matters. Of course tribunals have been created as a matter of fact despite this problem but an illegal precedent is still illegal no matter how many times it is repeated.

It is clear that the ad hoc tribunals previously set up for Yugoslavia and Rwanda were set up during a period when Russia was under the sway of President Yeltsin and others willing to act in US interests without caring about the implications for Russian and world interests. Russia, and China lost all control over the funding, staffing and running of these tribunals from the very beginning which, from the personal experience of this writer and other defence counsel, are controlled at all levels by western intelligence assets.

The indictments and evidence at these tribunals are concocted against selected accused for three reason; to defame the leaders targeted, to justify the western aggression against these countries, and finally to cover up the real role of the west in these wars.

A further problem with the proposed MH17 tribunal was the claim that it was a matter under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, that is, a matter of international peace and security. The fact that the other ad hoc tribunals have been created under Chapter VII reveals their true political nature. But in the case of MH17, no such argument can be validly made since there has never been an example of a plane being brought down in any circumstances that has triggered the use of Chapter VII of the UN Charter. No call was made by anyone to create a UN tribunal with regard to the downing of the Iranian, Libyan and Korean airliners or even the downing of the plane carrying Dag Hammarskjold, the UN Secretary General, in 1961. It seems when western interests might be affected, the less that is known, the better.

But there was another problem with the proposal that reveals its true political nature. A court can only try those accused of a crime determined to have taken place and can only try accused against whom there is evidence. In regard to MH17 there is the NATO propaganda on one side claiming Donbass militias were involved, aided and abetted by Russia, but without any evidence of this being produced, and, on the other hand, evidence supplied by eye witnesses, air traffic controllers, Ukrainian military pilots and Russian radar plots that indicate that it was more likely shot down by a Ukrainian government Sukhoi jet fighter. In any case, whatever the facts really are, the investigation is not complete and not complete because the NATO alliance refuses to release information that is necessary to make a determination as to who is responsible and what their motives were.

Since NATO is not willing to offer this information to investigators now nor to make it public why would they do so if a tribunal were created? They would not. They would have used that tribunal as a forum to bash Russia, fabricate evidence and used it to justify even more western aggression.

The proposal was clearly a trap for Russia and so its veto of July 29th was welcome news. Russia will continue to face criticism from the usual suspects in NATO and more ravings by Samantha Power in the Security Council and more bizarre stories in the western press that it is trying to stop “justice” or is afraid of the investigation, but better to treat these false accusations with a dismissive wave of the hand than to have taken the bait and be faced with the constant harassment, and injustice that would have surely followed if such a tribunal had been approved.

But the constant propaganda clearly signals the intent of the NATO countries and that is to try to overthrow the government of Russia one way or another. Russia avoided the NATO tribunal trap, but there is no doubt that other traps will be set and one of them and perhaps the most important is the propaganda trap we in the west must learn to recognise and avoid so that we do not fall into the worst trap of all, supporting aggression that profits the few but risks the nuclear annihilation of us all.

Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto, he is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and he is known for a number of high-profile cases involving human rights and war crimes.

August 25, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media | , , , , | 1 Comment

Sexual Identity and American Diplomacy

State Department is hobbled by identity politics

Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • August 25, 2015

The pending normalization of full diplomatic relations with Cuba is long overdue and it is to be hoped that the agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program will survive a congressional onslaught next month. That is all to the good and the administration of President Barack Obama deserves full credit for persevering in spite of nearly incessant attacks from the Israeli and Cuban lobbies both in congress and the media.

But even as the dust begins to settle the New York Times is reporting on a new existential crisis: same-sex marriages in the Foreign Service explored in an article entitled “State Department Fights for Rights of Gay Envoys.” Not that the Gray Lady is opposed to same-sex marriages for diplomats, quite the contrary. Its concern is that many highly qualified diplomats are turning down assignments because some benighted countries do not recognize same-sex unions and therefore do not accept that a man plus man or woman plus woman relationship actually qualifies as a diplomatic family. Which means that some Foreign Ministries are denying visas or accreditation for same-sex spouses. Worse still, as many countries regard homosexual behavior as a criminal offense, it suggests the possibility that some categories of Embassy and Consular family members not covered by full diplomatic immunity might find themselves arrested.

The Obama Administration is predictably outraged and is reported to be frantically working on the problem with the State Department making “securing the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people around the world a priority” (my emphasis). But to my mind the fundamental problem is not same-sex marriage per se, which most Americans now no longer oppose, but the failure to comprehend what Embassies and Consular posts are supposed to do coupled with a characteristic inability to understand that American principles and rules, such as they are, do not have universal applicability. This is particularly true in the case of gay marriage, which impacts on sincerely held religious views and which is still a bone of contention even in the relatively tolerant United States and Western Europe.

Government at the White House level frequently does not understand how the great federal bureaucracies actually work. Contrary to the Times headline, being part of a diplomatic mission is a privilege, not a universal right, and both by law and convention the host country pretty much sets the rules on who may enter and under what conditions.

The article quotes Michael Guest, a gay former ambassador to Romania, who said “It’s increasingly a problem, as some countries have wanted to take a stand on the issue of marriage equality that isn’t really theirs to take.” He is wrong. The Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations stipulates that any country can expel or refuse to accept the presence of a foreign diplomat without providing any reasons whatsoever. Article 9 includes “The receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable.” This is an option that the United States has exercised frequently in espionage cases as well as more recently in refusing to issue a visa to a proposed Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, for which the U.S. is the host nation.

The United States has also somewhat more questionably taken steps to restrict the travels of accredited diplomats with whom it is uncomfortable. Soviet era dips from Eastern Europe and Russia were generally required to get approval for traveling more than 25 miles outside of New York City or Washington and there have been similar restrictions on the movement of both Palestinian and Iranian representatives. So the host country is not obligated to accept anyone else’s standards and can in many respects set whatever rules it wishes within its sovereign territory.

Past U.S. determinations of who or what was acceptable were based on what were deemed to be security issues but the same sex marriage problem is something quite different. To be sure there have been homosexuals in government since the time of Pharaoh Khufu, and the United States Department of State has long had considerably more than its share with the once-upon-a-time understanding that it was best to stay in the closet. This was the rule in post-World War 2 America, both for diplomats and intelligence personnel, and it was largely justified by the danger of blackmail or the creation of diplomatic “incidents” as homosexual activity was illegal almost everywhere. When I served in the Rome Embassy in the 1970s one particularly flamboyant political officer who was almost but not quite out of the closet was generally accepted until he was observed regularly cruising at odd hours in the nearby Villa Borghese Park, leading to his being warned to cool his jets lest he come to the attention of the Carabinieri, who at that time staged regular roundups at gay gatherings to target what was then regarded as public indecency.

But one’s sexual preferences were rarely a problem in Italy back then and even less so now as homosexual relations have been legal since 1890. Civil unions that guarantee property rights, pensions or inheritance without regard to gender do not, however, exist in law, which means there are no same-sex marriages. One imagines that same-sex couples who go to diplomatic posts in Italy do so with a wink and a nod from the authorities at the Foreign Ministry, who are not likely to make an issue out of it. But Italian deliberate ambiguity about what constitutes a marriage is not the norm everywhere else. By one estimate 50% of all Foreign Service posts do not recognize or accept same-sex diplomatic or official couples.

The State Department sensibly insists that all of its employees should be free to accept assignments anywhere in the world, but not so sensibly it has appointed a Special Envoy for the Rights of Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people, both politicizing the issue and turning American diplomats into promoters of personal choices that many foreigners consider immoral as well as illegal. And Congress has predictably jumped on the band wagon with 100 Congressmen (99 Democrats and one Republican) calling on State to reciprocate by denying visas for families of diplomats from countries that discriminate against homosexuals.

In tackling the LGBT issue as a global crusade while also making it a major concern for U.S. embassies the White House and Democrats in Congress are not really doing anyone any favors. Overseas diplomatic missions exist to benefit broad American national interests, not to promote specific group agendas or to confront the host country on its laws and customs. Ambassadors traditionally enabled dialogue and established communications channels among nations while the consular services provided a mechanism to help ensure that American travelers and businessmen would be treated fairly by the local authorities. Having an embassy did not mean that Americans should not be subject to local laws, nor did it serve as a blunt instrument to demand that the foreigners be required to accept American values and customs.

But that vision of diplomacy was all before “democracy promotion,” much loved by Democratic presidents enamored of social engineering, for whom LGBT is almost certainly seen as a subset of democracy. And if past experience of government is anything to go by, this Obama initiative will probably morph into a War on Homophobia under President Hillary Clinton complete with a Czar and a substantial budget to pay for lots of first class travel to hotspots like Copenhagen to participate in conferences convened by gay rights activists.

In truth, the democracy cum human rights agenda has undeniably done a great deal of damage to the United States. It is still falsely cited as the one benefit that came out of the invasion of Iraq and is also used to justify the continued presence in Afghanistan. It led to the unfortunate intervention in Libya, fueled the drive to “do something” in Syria, overthrew an elected government in Ukraine and it is also behind much of the criticism of Russia and its president Vladimir Putin. In reality all the frenetic activity to turn the world into Peoria has produced little beyond trillions of dollars of debt, thousands of dead Americans and quite likely millions of dead foreigners.

And the focus on cultural and social issues is frequently a perversion of diplomacy. Some recent Ambassadorial appointees, to include Michael McFaul in Russia and Robert Ford in Syria, were intended to confront the domestic policies of local governments that Washington disapproved of rather than to engage with them in dialogue. Beyond that, America’s roving mischief makers to include the State Department’s Victoria Nuland and various Senators named McCain and Graham showed up regularly in troubled regions to harass the local authorities. To put it mildly, that is not what diplomacy is all about. Diplomacy is a process whereby no one wins everything while no one loses completely producing a result that everyone can live with. It is not about “We are right. Take it or leave it.”

It is indeed acceptable for a national government to urge greater tolerance as President Obama did on his recent trip to Africa but creating a bureaucracy to assert the global primacy of American values to include what constitutes a marriage benefits no one, least of all those being “protected,” as in many countries that would only serve to enable labeling the sexual dissidents as American agents. And the idea of punishing the families of diplomats from countries that see marriage differently is completely absurd as it will produce retaliation, damaging to genuine American interests and potentially threatening the security of U.S. diplomats overseas.

The entire feel good process of instructing others how to live derives from a peculiar American sense that we somehow understand important things better than anyone else and everyone should follow our lead. It is a dangerous conceit as it breeds resentment and inevitably leads to tit-for-tat responses that serve no purpose. The United States is already viewed negatively by a large part of the world. Adding fuel to the fire by complaining about others’ values while promoting marginal causes that inevitably will be controversial is not what most American citizens should expect from their government. Unfortunately it is all too often what we wind up getting.

August 25, 2015 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

As Gaza Lies in Ruins, The NY Times Blames the Victims

By Barbara Erickson | TimesWarp | August 24, 2015

Israel’s attacks on Gaza ended a year ago, but the strip remains an expanse of rubble and devastation. Who’s to blame for this outrage? The New York Times has an answer: everyone but Israel.

Jodi Rudoren comes up with this response in a story that aims to whitewash Israel’s brutal treatment of Gaza by blaming the Palestinian victims along with the international community for the lack of rebuilding. It is all summed up in the story’s subhead, “Political Infighting and Lack of Funds Stymie a Reconstruction Mechanism.”

Her article takes pains to present the process as a collaborative project between the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the United Nations, and she is hazy about Israel’s role, describing it as nothing more than “involvement in approving projects and participants.”

Rudoren furthers her efforts in a single paragraph that absolves Israel completely: “[The Palestinian minister of housing], other Palestinian leaders and United Nations representatives all said that Israel had done its part in reasonable time and allowed cement into Gaza. Empty coffers, they said, are the primary problem.”

Times readers, however, never learn the direct quotes or the names of the “leaders” and “representatives” that would help substantiate this claim, nor does Rudoren explain what “Israel’s part” actually refers to here.

In fact, Israel controls everything that goes into Gaza, from people to foodstuffs to building material, and the agreed-on process for rebuilding the strip—the “reconstruction mechanism” referred to in the subhead—is built solely on Israeli demands. (Israel also blocks Gaza traffic by sea and has the full cooperation of the Egyptian government on that border as well.)

Although the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority have roles in the process, Israel determines who gets building materials, what they get and in what amounts. As Harvard-based Gaza expert Sara Roy notes, the two major documents outlining the reconstruction process “read like security plans, carefully laying out Israeli concerns and the ways in which the United Nations will accommodate them.”

Roy adds, “Israel will have to approve all projects and their locations and will be able to veto any part of the process on security grounds.” Moreover, she writes, “No mechanism for accountability or transparency will apply to Israel.”

Without doubt, Palestinian bureaucracy, donor fears of yet another attack on Gaza and other factors come into play in reconstruction efforts, but Rudoren ignores the major element, which is the Israeli blockade.

Her story, in fact, never refers to the eight-year blockade of Gaza and makes only vague mention of Israeli “control” of the enclave. Readers are left without any relevant context.

Rudoren’s article also omits other details that would place Israel’s role in a different light: the fact that by July of this year it had allowed the passage less than 1 percent of the construction materials needed to adequately house Gaza residents or that as of May, a total of 20 schools (kindergarten to college level) completely destroyed by Israel had yet to be repaired.

Readers never learn, for instance, that aid agencies in Gaza were forced to rely on temporary building materials as the Israeli-mandated process kept concrete, cement and steel supplies to a trickle. They also never learn the sequel to this chapter: that Israel stepped in to squelch the effort just as it was gaining momentum.

The project was run by Catholic Relief Services, which began using lumber to build temporary homes for the displaced residents this year, and media reports in February and March stated that 70 had been built and 40 families had moved into the new houses. CRS had plans to construct more than 100 additional wooden homes, but in April the program came to an end when Israel suddenly banned all lumber for housing.

Here we can see how Israel actually operates in the opaque rebuilding process mentioned in Rudoren’s piece. Times readers, however, never learn of this sad narrative nor of many others that would reveal how Israeli actions are destroying the economy and depressing the living conditions in Gaza.

And yet, the Times story would have us believe that Israel has “done its part” in the reconstruction of Gaza, ignoring the obvious: that Israel alone has complete control of its borders with the strip, and if Israel so willed, Gaza residents would have moved out of the rubble long ago.

August 25, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

New York Times is Crimea Tourism News for Dummies

By Phil Butler – New Eastern Outlook – 24.08.2015

A post by the New York Times this week, is a woeful reminder what poor losers Americans can be. Have a read here, and discover how low publisher Arthur Sulzberger’s newspaper has sunk. The latest formed and fashioned feature against Mr. Putin, it is a crummy bit of journalistic license entitled, “Russia’s Pitch to Vacationers: Crimea Is for Patriots.” […]

On August 19th a writer named Neil MacFarquhar skillfully crafted a story about tourism in Crimea. It is a story timed to coincide with the visit of Vladimir Putin, and Dmitry Medvedev to that peninsula on business, and for pleasure. Putin, with a multiplicity of missions there including efforts on behalf of the Russian Geographic Society, draws negative reportage from the NYTs daily. This time MacFarquhar ventures farther astray than most other NYTs writers though, as the author paints a grim, grimy, and gray touristic destination out of this resort area. Here’s a section of his dispatch on Russia tourism to Americans. Speaking of the coastal town of Saky, the writer explains:

“The dreary shoreline with its view of rusted dredging equipment was perhaps less appealing than previous holiday destinations in Turkey and Europe, she said, but patriotism drove her choice this summer.”

So there you have the framing of a horrid picture, one capitalized by a carefully chosen image of two elderly ladies sitting by what appears to be the seashore. Oh but wait, this story is intensely misleading, a lie, for all intents and purposes. If you research the images MacFarquhar uses, or maybe call friends in Crimea like I have, geography and reality will slap you awake from this gifted storyteller’s fairy tale. Right here it’s necessary to profile MacFarquhar for you, as the Moscow based has a habit of being where the action is, or where the New York Times wants it to be. A former United Nations bureau chief, MacFarquhar’s stories intriguingly coincide with upheaval and/or diatribe, against individuals portrayed as “enemies” of America.

An expert on the Middle East, wherever US military forces go around the 40th parallel North, Neil MacFarquhar offers up editorial support. When the US helped unseat Libya’s Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the New York Times reporter who spent part of his childhood in Libya was the “go to” man to tell America about the dictator’s violent death, and to help justify it. Over a year before the west alleged Syria’s leader Assad used chemical weapons at Ghouta against his own people, MacFarquhar was reporting for the NYTs on alleged Syrian threats to use such weapons. And if you follow that story from 2012, you’ll find a familiar face of Western hegemony cited too. MacFarquhar and one Victoria Nuland (of Ukraine infamy) do tend to occupy the same pages of the grand old New York Times fairly frequently. The fact is, anytime one of America’s “enemies” is in the crosshairs, MacFarquhar is there, start to finish, telling of the evil deeds, and then of the justifiable demise of tyrants. He helped paint the terror portrait of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, and then wrote the man’s epitaph too. MacFarquhar profiled Osama Bin Laden on September 26th, 2001 right after the 9/11 attacks, and then profiled his possible successors for us.

I’m hesitant to go on here, for fear a good leader in Russia may be doomed just on account of being in the reports of this specter of the New York Times. Instead, maybe it’s better to announce the impending doom of Crimea tourism. Alas there is hope though, for my contacts on the ground there tell me business is booming! Let’s just hope the US State Department has not come up with some touristic alert to ruin Summer by the sea for Russians. If you’ll excuse the sarcasm briefly, MacFarquhar’s uncanny tendency of being surrounded with death and chaos is spooky indeed. Just how such a gifted writer came to discussing beach blanket bingo on the Black Sea, it baffles me actually. Instead, let’s move on to a bullshit finale to a story propped up by incorrect imagery, geography, and statistics.

The two images MacFarquhar uses to show us a pitiful Crimea touristic drought are all wrong. The two old ladies alone by the seaside, they are not actually on the sea. The ladies you see sitting, looking out across the water, they’re sitting the Sevastopol harbor, not exactly beach bunny Mecca, if you know what I mean. Rather than show New York Times readers the real beach of Saky, where his story is supposedly situated, it’s more appropriate somehow to show lonely old ladies marooned on one of the most industrialized harbors on the Black Sea. The misdirect is brilliant, if you want to paint Crimea as deserted of tourists, that is.

Skillfully, the veteran wordsmith draws the reader in. Illuminating “rusted” dredging equipment along the salt lake at Saky, MacFarquhar takes strategic advantage of a readership that has never laid eyes on the Black Sea, let alone mineral salt baths in Crimea. Being an expert on the Middle East, MacFarguhar has no doubt seen dredges on the Dead Sea, or along other ancient shorelines where therapy is sought? Maybe he’s unaware of the high concentrations of salt along these Crimean lakes’ shores, and of the effects of high saline concentrations on ferrous metals? No matter, the author’s second photo from clear across the peninsula, it shows an overweight sun bather choosing from empty beach chairs, his spot along a beach in Livadia, Crimea. Abandoned beach chairs in Livadia? “This cannot be right,” I thought.

webcam-1Unfortunately for the New York Times, many of the resorts in Crimea have live webcams. Maybe MacFarquhar is unaware of Russians’ affinity for real-time, but facts are facts. The stream you will find at the therapeutic spa Poltava Crimea in Saky, it reveals normal tourist activity on the beach there. The screenshot provided is from 11:34 and 54 seconds, on the main beach at the resort town. Comparing this photo, with the resort’s promotional photos of their beach, anyone can determine for themselves the health spa is running true to form. Furthermore, my friend and colleague, Graham Phillips is in Yalta at this very moment, broadcasting live the buzzing resort MacFarguhar tells his American audience is dead as a door nail. I called Graham to help me illuminate the seeming darkness surrounding this Summer in Yalta and Crimea. For those who do not know, Graham is fairly famous for his reportage refuting incorrect Western news on the Ukraine conflict. Our chat today proved no less interesting for me, and for readers of the New York Times too. As it happens, Graham just filmed a video at the end of this link shot this week in Yalta. Not only does the footage refute the aforementioned Times story, but it also shows Graham meeting up with at least one tourist from Kiev. If we relied on the NYT and other mainstream media for our understanding of this region, then we’d surely believe Ukrainians are ALL dead set on killing Russians, rather than vacationing with them. But don’t take my word for any of this, follow the links and do your own 5 minute “truth” research. For more Crimea spa experience, this other Saky therapy resort called Sanatorium “Yurmino” posts almost daily photos of guests living it up in the mud baths via their VK profile.

In conclusion, the reader here should formulate his or her own opinion of what ANY truth about Crimea, Ukraine, or Russia is, from ALL the sources of information available. While American news and other media is dominated by entities like The New York Times, there are always good alternatives. Mr. MacFarquhar, and noteworthy journalists like him, they’ve been relied upon too much in my estimation. As anyone knows, ideas and methods in any profession are influenced heavily by resource and the prevalent mind set. That said, any skilled reporter can paint whatever picture is desired. Manipulating imagery, inserting well crafted words and inflection, and a Miami Beach bikini contest can become a cellulite extravaganza not worth attending. This is where we are in the world of so-called “news” – caught in between fact and a fabricated agenda. And believe you me, the New York Times’ is the tippy top pinnacle, of a fashioned corporate agenda against Mother Russia and her people.

August 25, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Destructive Global Dependencies

By Ralph Nader | August 21, 2015

Do you have your savings in a mutual fund? Does your pension fund invest in stocks, just as mutual funds do? If so, you may want to know this has been a bad week for U.S. stock markets. The Dow and Nasdaq indices have plummeted big time, but not because of the U.S. economy which is showing signs of revival. It is, as the Wall Street Journal reports, mostly because of the woes in China plus the shakiness of the depressed Greek economy and weaknesses of the economies in other larger emerging nations such as Brazil and Turkey.

Welcome to the world of extreme dependency by the U.S., the world’s biggest economy, on the instabilities of small and large nations overseas. This dependency is exactly what the giant corporations further by pushing globalization, often to misname it “free trade” in order to boost Congressional and White House support for the “global economy”.

Although big business won’t go so far as to advocate U.S. dependence-inducing globalized markets for oil, they are pushing for trade agreements that make the U.S. more dependent even on essentials like food and medicines.

For example, 80 percent of our seafood is now imported, often through dubiously treated fish farms from China. Eighty percent of the ingredients in the medicines you take come from China and India where there are very few inspectors from the Food and Drug Administration, assuming they can gain entry visas.

The 2014 report to Congress from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission describes the recent casualties and looming dangers to the health of the American people from uninspected or counterfeit drugs.

U.S. companies and importers are working hand-in-hand with these exporters to increase their markups and lower costs by displacing U.S. domestic production. Corporations and patriotism are rarely associated.

How often have you been told that trade agreements like NAFTA, GATT and the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are “win-win” deals for all signatory countries? But are you told that the U.S. has been buying more abroad than it is selling abroad, leading to huge trade deficits for more than three decades?

China shipped “nearly four dollars’ worth of goods to the United States for every dollar’s worth of imports it purchased from the United States” (according to the above-noted Report) for a deficit exceeding $300 billion and growing each year.

These regular trade deficits mean we’re exporting millions of jobs. When chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan was asked over fifteen years ago at a Congressional hearing whether he was worried about these annual trade deficits, he replied that he would be concerned only if they continue unabated. Mr. Greenspan has not been heard from since on his projected worries.

Dogmatic free traders don’t recognize any evidence that disproves their “win-win” secular religion. Whole industries are taken from the U.S. and lost to dictatorial countries with poorly paid workers that daily violate human rights. Still, the “free-traders” don’t budge.

Of course the ultimate, latter stage dependency created by corporate globalization is when our own health, safety, labor and legal/democratic standards are pulled down by the combination of fleeing U.S. corporate giants in cahoots with fascist regimes overseas.

To be first or best with labor rights, environmental or safety standards for our people is to be accused of imposing “non-tariff trade barriers” against imports from countries that treat badly their consumers, workers and environment. So, for example, our being first with an auto safety standard, a food labelling requirement or a ban on a toxic chemical here lets exporting countries sue the U.S. in secret tribunals in Geneva, Switzerland whose decisions by corporate lawyers (temporarily sitting as trade judges) are final.

If we disobey these secret rulings, countries that win can collect billions of dollars in fines from you the taxpayers. Did you know that international trade could impose its profiteering zeal on your daily health and safety and get its way, not in our courts, but in kangaroo courts closed to the public?

You’re entitled to ask whether you ever agreed to this corporatism when you voted for your Senators, Representatives and Presidents.

Meanwhile, better take a last look at the country-of-origin label on the meat packages sold in your neighborhood supermarkets. Brazil and Mexico beat the U.S. in a secret tribunal in Geneva and were ready to charge us billions of dollars because of these labels. So, the Congress is rushing to repeal its own country-of-origin labelling law—supported by just about every American—to avoid being fined. Isn’t that crazy?

Isn’t it time for us to bear down on our corporatist politicians and export them out of our legislatures?

For more information to quicken your resolve, see http://www.citizen.org/trade/.

August 24, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | | Leave a comment

The Secret Agenda Behind the Venezuela-Guyana Conflict

By Eva Golinger | CounterPunch | August 24, 2015

It all began in 1835 when the British Empire sent a German-born naturalist and explorer to conduct geographical research in the South American territory it had colonized and named British Guiana. In the course of his explorations, a map was drawn that well-exceeded the original western boundary first occupied by the Dutch and later passed to British control. Sparking the interest of the Empire’s desire to expand its borders into the area west of the Essequibo River that was rich in gold, the British government commissioned the explorer to survey their territorial boundaries. What became known as the “Schomburgk Line”, named after the explorer, Robert Hermann Schomburgk, usurped a large portion of Venezuelan land, and provoked the beginning of a territorial dispute that has remained unresolved to this day.

In 1850, after decades of arguing over the boundary line dividing Venezuela from its colonized neighbor, both sides agreed not to occupy the disputed territory until further determinations could be made. But as the demand for gold and other natural resources grew in the region, the British again tried to claim the territory declaring the Schomburgk Line the frontier of British Guiana, in clear violation of the previous accord with Venezuela.

Ironically, Venezuela appealed to the United States government for help at the time, using the Monroe Doctrine as a justification to prevent further colonization by the British Empire in the hemisphere. US President Grover Cleveland eventually declared the matter of US interest and forced Great Britain to sign a Treaty of Arbitration with Venezuela in Washington in 1897. Two years later, the Arbitration Tribunal, which had no representatives from Venezuela but instead two arbitrators from the United States said to be acting in Venezuela’s interest, ruled in favor of Britain. Venezuela rejected the decision, alleging there had been political collusion and illegal pressures in favor of the other side. These claims were supported by a letter written by Severo Mallet-Prevost, the Official Secretary of the US/Venezuela delegation in the Arbitration Tribunal who revealed the President of the Tribunal, Friedrich Martens had pressured the arbitrators to decide in favor of Great Britain.

More than half a century went by until the dispute was re-introduced on the international stage, this time at the United Nations. Venezuela denounced the corruption that had led to the arbitrators decision in 1899 and reiterated its claim over the territory known as the “Essequibo”. In February 1966, at a meeting in Geneva, all parties to the conflict – Venezuela, British Guiana and Great Britain – signed the agreement to resolve the dispute over the border between Venezuela and British Guiana, known as the Treaty of Geneva. They agreed neither side would act on the disputed territory until they could resolve a definitive border, acceptable to all parties. Months later, in May 1966, Guyana achieved its independence from the United Kingdom, further complicating matters. On subsequent maps of Venezuela and Guyana, both countries claimed the territory as part of their sovereign land.

Despite minor disagreements since 1966, the dispute did not become the source of escalating regional tensions until 2015, when a large oil discovery was made by Exxon right smack in the middle of the Essequibo, and claimed by Guyana.

OIL

The Cooperative Republic of Guyana is the second poorest country in the Caribbean, only surpassing desolate Haiti in per capita income. The country’s main economic activity is agriculture, specifically rice and sugar production, which account for over 30% of export income. Despite being surrounded by vast oil and gas reserves in neighboring Venezuela, which has the largest oil reserves on the planet in its Orinoco River Basin, and nearby Trinidad and Tobago, up until recently Guyana had no known oil reserves within its territorial boundaries.

Enter Exxon Mobil, one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, and a declared enemy of Venezuela. Until 2007, Exxon had a significant investment through its Cerro Negro Project in Venezuela’s Orinoco River Basin. Initially, U.S. oil and geological experts had classified the oil-based substance found in mass quantities in that area to be bitumen, a thick black tar-like asphalt, therefore rendering it not subject to the 1976 Hydrocarbons Law in Venezuela that nationalized oil and gas reserves. After President Hugo Chavez suspected the area actually contained huge oil reserves, he had his own research done and was proved right: the Orinoco River Basin was certified with over 300 billion barrels of heavy-crude petroleum.

On May 1, 2007, Chavez officially declared all hydrocarbons in that region subject to the prior nationalization laws, legally binding any foreign companies operating there to engage in joint-ventures with the Venezuelan public oil company, PDVSA. The law required a minimum of 51% ownership by the Venezuelan state, with a maximum of 49% for foreign companies. Only two companies refused to cooperate with the new laws. Both were from the United States: ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil. Both sued Venezuela over the nationalizations.

ConocoPhillips’ claim was significantly smaller than Exxon’s, which demanded over $18 billion for the expropriation. Venezuela offered market value and the case went to an international arbitration tribunal that eventually ordered the Venezuelan government to pay Exxon $1.6 billion, a mere fraction of what the US oil giant had expected.

In an apparent act of revenge, Exxon found a way to get Venezuela’s oil without following Venezuela’s rules, albeit through illegal and potentially dangerous channels.

EXXON-US AGENDA

As the Obama administration was amping up hostility against Venezuela, declaring it via Executive Decree an “unusual and extraordinary threat to U.S. national security” and imposing potentially vast-reaching sanctions on government officials, Exxon was making a deal with Guyana to explore oil deposits in the disputed Essequibo territory.

In May 2015, just as Guyana was swearing in a new president, the conservative military officer David Granger, a close U.S. ally, Exxon was making a huge discovery in the Atlantic Ocean near the Venezuelan coast. According to reports, the deposits found by Exxon in the ’Liza-1 well’ hold over 700 million barrels of oil, worth about $40 billion today. The find could be a major game changer for Guyana, representing more than 12 times its current economic input, that is, if the oil actually belonged to Guyana instead of Venezuela.

On January 26, 2015, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden hosted the first Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, bringing heads of state and high-level officials from Caribbean nations together with multinational executives in Washington. The stated goal of the new initiative is to help Caribbean nations “create the conditions to attract private-sector investment”, but Biden made the true objective clear when he declared, “…whether it’s the Ukraine or the Caribbean, no country should be able to use natural resources as a tool of coercion against any other country.”

Without mentioning it by name, Biden was referring to Venezuela and its PetroCaribe program that provides subsidized oil and gas to Caribbean nations at virtually no upfront cost. PetroCaribe has been fundamental in aiding development in the region during the past ten years since its creation. And clearly, its perceived as a threat to U.S. influence in the Caribbean, and an affront to traditional corporate exploitation of small, developing nations.

In addition to the Obama administration sanctions aimed at isolating Venezuela in the region and portraying it as a ‘failed state’, the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative takes a direct stab at Venezuela’s lifeline: oil. In the U.S. Senate Report on the Department of State’s Foreign Operations Budget for 2016, $5,000,000.00 was recommended for “enhanced efforts to help Latin America and Caribbean countries achieve greater energy independence from Venezuela”. Falling oil prices have already done damage to Venezuela’s economy, but forcing it out of the regional oil trade would hurt even more.

The main conundrum of figuring out how to replace Venezuelan oil in PetroCaribe was resolved with the stroke of a pen by Guyana’s new president, a former instructor at the U.S. Army War College who made a secret trip to the United States just three days after taking office in May. Hours later, Exxon’s oil exploration rig, Deepwater Champion made its first major lucrative discovery in the large Stabroek Block in the disputed coastal territory.

The Venezuelan government warned Exxon to leave the area, citing its claim over the Essequibo territory and the ongoing dispute with Guyana subject to UN mediation. But Exxon paid no heed to Venezuela, following President Granger’s lead in openly defying the Geneva Agreement and Venezuela’s calls to solve the conflict through diplomacy, involving the UN Good Offices in the resolution of the centuries-old dispute.

UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon has pledged to send a commission to both Venezuela and Guyana to seek resolution for a problem that now, as Washington hoped, is dividing the region. President Maduro and his Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez have been making their case before regional leaders, encouraging other Caribbean nations to support their claim over the Essequibo, or at least approve the involvement of the UN to arbitrate the dispute. In the meantime, Guyana continues to aggressively push forward with Exxon to pursue what could become the largest oil theft in the Americas.

Eva Golinger is the author of The Chavez Code.

August 24, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

“Human Rights” in the Arab World: the Instruments of War, a Test Case for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

By Lana Habash | CounterPunch | August 21, 2015

Sometimes I love Republicans. They lay bare with such clarity what underlies and drives US foreign policy– the bottom line strategic interests without the pretense that more adept politicians use to justify US military aggression: the US government’s “concerns” about “human rights” for instance.

Take Syria.

John McCain laid it all out in his interview on CNN’s Situation Room in 2013:

“Look, the Middle East is about to erupt. This is turning into a regional conflict: Lebanon is destabilized, Jordan can’t — the king of Jordan can’t last, the conflict is spreading throughout the region, Hezbollah is all in. This is becoming a Sunni-Shia conflict . . . and it’s an unfair fight!” While arguing for more US military intervention in Syria, he goes on to say, “It’s a great blow to Iran — the greatest in twenty-five years, and they’re cut off from Hezbollah, which would mean that Hezbollah would die on the vine.”

It is strange to hear American politicians wring their hands about the instability of the Jordanian monarchy and its regime while pontificating about US intentions to “bring democracy to the Middle East.”

Over the past two decades, we have witnessed the increasing use of the human rights discourse by the United States as justification for US military aggression. In some cases, these human rights abuses (as in the case of Iraq) proved nothing more than Department of Defense propaganda that was later proved false. More recently, the Assad regime in Syria has been accused of such violations as torture and arbitrary arrest and detention, though the US hasn’t been above using these  alleged services themselves. (US former CIA agent Robert Baer once said of US held prisoners, “If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria.”)  The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has echoed these allegations about the Syrian regime. These alleged human rights abuses, the same ones that Jordan continues to perpetrate against its own citizens with impunity,  have been used as justification for US military intervention in Syria, including the arming and training of rebel forces in Jordan by US troops, which has resulted in the deaths of at least 220,000 people and over 3 million refugees. These interventions have done nothing to advance the human rights of the Syrian people, but have achieved some strategic goals for the US and Israel: Hezbollah, the only player that poses a serious threat to American and Israeli strategic interests regionally, is now embroiled in a Syrian civil war, and as McCain stated, a “great blow” has been served to both Iran and Hezbollah.

Last year, at his confirmation as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights by the General Assembly, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein spoke of his commitment to push forward human rights on the Asian continent. It has been hard to take seriously this pronouncement when the High Commissioner has used his office to support concrete measures that, not coincidentally, mesh with US strategic interests, while he remains silent about the human rights abuses in his own country, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Jordan is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, yet has one of the most abysmal human rights records in the world. The recent case of Amer Jubran reveals the entire spectrum of repression to which Jordanians are subjected.

Amer Jubran is an internationally known Palestinian activist, speaker and writer on the rights of Palestinians and against US and Israeli policies in the Arab world. He has also distributed information about US involvement in destabilizing Syria.

Jubran was arrested in Jordan on May 5, 2014, when 20 men in black military uniforms broke into his home in the middle of the night. He was held incommunicado by Jordan’s secret police, the General Intelligence Directorate (GID) for 2 months at an undisclosed location, in violation of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. A petition against arbitrary detention was filed on his behalf with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Nothing came of this.

Jubran was finally charged in August, 2014 under a new law that makes “harming the relationship with a foreign government” a crime of “terrorism.” The wording of this law is so vague that it criminalizes a broad range of political activities including journalism, in violation of Article 19 of the ICCPR, guaranteeing freedom of opinion and expression.

This same law was enacted one month after Amer Jubran’s arrest, also constituting a violation of Article 15 of the ICCPR, which stipulates, “No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offense … which did not constitute a criminal offense…at the time when it was committed.”

Jubran was tried before Jordan’s State Security Court (SSC), a military tribunal that fails to meet even minimum standards of judicial independence, violating Article 14 of the ICCPR, which guarantees the right to a fair trial by a  “competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.” Jubran’s defense team effectively proved the “terrorism” charges against him false, but the verdict of the SSC was reached without regard for evidence. The only evidence presented in Jubran’s trial was the coerced testimony of other defendants, also arrested in May, 2014, subjected to interrogation, and all of whom received reduced sentences of two to three years. Robert Baer also said: “If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan.” While Jubran was being detained incommunicado and “interrogated” he was threatened not only with imprisonment, but with being disappeared when he refused to infiltrate Hezbollah and act as an informant for the GID. He was recently sentenced to ten years of hard labor by Jordan’s State Security Court (see statement by Amer Jubran on his sentencing.)

The human rights abuses perpetrated against Amer Jubran are the rule in Jordan, rather than the exception. Jordan’s long history of the use of arbitrary detention and torture have been well documented by the UN. In 2013, the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a report on Jordan, detailing a series of cases like that of Jubran in which basic political freedoms had been trampled. The report had a special section on the State Security Court:

“The Committee against Torture and the Human Rights Committee have repeatedly recommended that Jordan abolish special courts such as the State Security Court… The Committee reiterates its 1994 recommendation that the State party consider abolishing the State Security Court.” (Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, November 2013).

What has the UN High Commissioner done thus far to respond to these recommendations and push forward the issue of human rights in his own country? When asked during a press conference as to whether it was illegal to criticize the king in the press  in Jordan, the Human Rights Chief replied, “Essentially, we believe we are still a family,”  while plugging the king’s new book (USA Today August 13, 2014). The UN High Commissioner failed to mention Jordan’s long history of criminalizing speech and imprisoning journalists like Jamal Ayyoub.

Interestingly, Jubran has written nothing about the Jordanian regime. His writing has consistently concerned itself with the policies of the US and Israel in the region. This speaks to the new law of “harming relationships with foreign governments.” Mr. Jubran has stated that he was told directly by his GID interrogators that any decision made about him would involve “our American and Israeli friends.”

Recent revelations about NSA cooperation with Jordanian intelligence agencies underline the central role Jordan plays in the US and Israeli “security” regime for the region. Spying on Palestinians and providing intelligence about “high security targets” is perhaps the least of the services Jordan provides. The abuses of fundamental freedoms in Jordan are consistently carried out, as in Amer Jubran’s case, in the interests of protecting US and Israeli power.

Institutions like the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights are supposed to exist to guarantee the protection of human and political rights globally. The real test of the UN High Commissioner’s commitment to push forward the issue of human rights in Asia must begin in his home country of Jordan and will involve a confrontation not only with that regime, but with the nation states calling the shots. Will the UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein use the powers of his office to advocate for human rights, when those powers come in conflict with the US, Israel, and their regional allies? If not,  then the term “human rights” has become nothing more than Orwellian doublespeak, and  the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is just one more weapon in the military arsenal of US regional dominance.

More details about the case of Amer Jubran can be found at freeamer.wordpress.com.

Lana Habash is a Palestinian physician living in Boston, MA. She can be reached at defense@amerjubrandefense.org.

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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